Ten thousand handmade glass raindrops suspend from the atrium of the new Design and Media center on Huntington Avenue. While umbrellas are not required, an open mind is.
“This isn’t supposed to be literal rain, but it’s about the poetics of rain,” artist Daniel Clayman explains.
Over the course of the Fall 2016 semester, Clayman, a New England-based sculptor and visiting professor at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, led a class of 18 students — ranging from sophomores to seniors — in the creation of the large-scale installation. They named it “Rainfield.”
The project was the center of an interdisciplinary course entitled “Structured Light,” which spanned lessons involving engineering, legal matters and contracting.
“We had students of architecture, glass, sculpture, ceramics, art ed., industrial design — so, everybody brought something to it,” Clayman says. The semester concluded with students proposing and designing their own large-scale project for the Prudential Center.
He notes, “I get as much out of this whole teaching thing as the students do. It really pushes me to kind of reconsider things.”
The idea for the installation came to Clayman in April, while walking through a rainstorm in Providence, RI, where he resides.
Regarding the project, he says, “You get a lot of rainbow refraction, especially later in the afternoon, and you also get these pinpoints — rows of pinpoints, and it all changes depending on where you’re standing.”
As other artists do, Clayman embraces challenges and imperfections. “See, how the lines aren’t perfectly straight? They kind of ripple. I hadn’t anticipated that,” he says during a walk-through of the exhibit-in-progress. “I thought that that screen was going to be perfect, and it’s not. We started being able to make it almost perfect — but actually, I love how it ripples. It turns a little, but it still builds the architecture.”
Alex Draper, a senior studying glass and one of the site managers for the project, admits, “I don’t think we initially realized how long it would take to make every glass piece.”
“Every drop is homemade, every single one. We just drip every raindrop off of the steel rod,” Clayman says.
Since Jan. 3, students have been working to install the sculpture 12 hours a day/six days a week. As far as challenges go, Draper admits she did not realize “the sheer magnitude” of the project, and each little part that went into it. Powers Hommel, a junior also studying Glass, joked about “getting used to the scissor lift.” In the end, the students learned a variety of skills–both inside and outside their actual major.
The sculpture is a first for the new building, and could remain installed for between six months to two years.
The public is welcome to view the project, which was completed on Jan. 23.
If you go:
Daily, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
MassArt Design and Media Center
621 Huntington Ave.