Grotesque Arabesque

Suyama Space, Seattle, WA

Steel, EL tape, theatrical gels, mylar mirror, water, dripping system: ©2009

The word grotesque comes from the word grotto, the distortion or warping of an image that is reflected in the water of a cave. The title is further defined with the addition of Arabesque: an elaborative application of repeating geometric forms that often echo the forms of nature. Here the arabesque framework articulates a repeating pattern of contour lines that define the interior of the cave, complete with stalactites. The contour lines glow with electroluminescent ribbons of aqua colored lighting mined from rare-earth phosphors. Dripping water distorts the architectural arabesque into a grotesque dance of light and dark.

GROTESQUE ARABESQUE is an immersive art environment transforming Suyama Space into an otherworldly, light-filled cave created by turquoise-colored electroluminescent tape on meticulously bent, contour-drawn flat bar steel. The glowing cave ceiling is amplified by and reflected in a large reflecting pond below. A saturated indigo illuminates the space through dark blue filters covering the gallery skylights, while a 25 foot wide mirror multiples and further distorts the experience.

Grotesque Arabesque was inspired by Corson’s visits to a series of caves in the Yucatan as well as Etruscan grottos, catacombs, and cisterns he explored during a residency in Civita di Bagnoregio, Italy in 2008. Caves hold an extreme fascination for the artist, primarily because they represent for him a threshold into another world, connecting us to the unconscious and to the dark mystery of Nature.

I want to extend my deep thanks and appreciation for the following people who without their help and support this project would not have happened. Beth Sellars, George Suyama, Jym Snedeker, David Verkade, Paul Strong, Matt Sellars, Ron Fujimoto of Fujimoto Landscaping, Jason Thompson, Thomas Carrol, Jordan Howland, Gabe Stern, Michele Lynn, Jerry Raitzer, Miriam Larson, Sven Larson, Todd Metten, Dave Meisner, Berndt Stugger, Tom Harman, Tom Mattausch, Jay Deguchi, Ric Peterson, 4culture, Barbara Goldstein, and all those at Suyama Peterson Deguchi who kindly endured the long build and installation.

Grotesque Arabesque is made possible through funding from 4 Culture Arts Sustained Support, City of Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, the Suyama Space Friends, and was curated by Beth Sellars in partnership with Space.City. Artist support is provided by a special project grant from 4Culture. Photo credits: Frank Huster, Will Austin and Dan Corson