Philadelphia artists Sarah Kate Burgess and Jacque Liu have created an installation using nearly 300 handmade pinwheels that are wall mounted in a grid pattern. The overall shape is suggestive of a singular cloud. Within the cloud are the winged forms of the pinwheels that catch the oscillating air current and spin. The placement of the pinwheels against an illuminated and shimmering background alludes to an idyllic sky. The still pinwheels gracefully take flight as they react to the wind.
Burgess and Liu have described their installation as a “simple gesture with moments of stillness.” And, in those moments, there are “recognitions of beauty, of meaning.”
Pinwheels are inherently mesmerizing in their simplicity of form and resulting motion. They are universally accessible and often conjure nostalgic childhood memories.
Our Cloud is the second pinwheel-based site-specific work created by Burgess and Liu. In 2015, they collaborated on a public artwork commissioned by Asian Arts Initiative, Philadelphia. Its guiding purpose was to reference Asian culture and inspire community engagement. In both pinwheel installations, the artists were inspired by Chinese poet Tao Yuanming whose essay Peach Blossom Spring described a fisherman’s chance discovery of an ideal land of blossoming peach trees where the people lived in harmony. The residents welcomed him and upon his departure, they urged him not to reveal their existence. Despite this, he marked his pathway home, with hope that one day he would return. He never found the utopic land again.
Burgess and Liu offer this pinwheel installation as an “encounter that parallels our memories of those moments of stillness” and the hopefulness to seek out and find those moments once more.
Visit adorneveryday.com or jacqueliu.com.