Winn Rea's Cascading Spirals

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 Winn Rea's Cascading Spirals

While preparing for her third New York solo show in early 2012, Winn Rea miraculously found time for this conversation. Rea is a mixed media artist and teacher for whom environmental concerns are basis for creative practice. With landscapes, drawings, installation and video, concepts of geologic time are explored, as well as the increasing disconnect between growing populations and shrinking natural resources.

Currently, the New York based Rea has an installation in The Value of Water, a group exhibition at St. John The Divine Cathedral, on view until March 25, 2012. The show is curated by Fredericka Foster and features 42 artists, including Jenny Holzer, William Kentridge, Robert Longo, Kiki Smith, Pat Steir, Xu Bing.

For The Value of Water, Rea created Fountain: Falling Water 2, an installation of cascading layers of plastic water bottles, situated in the cathedral nave. Falling Water 2 reminded me of rain, of waterfalls, melting glaciers, a vigorous shower and just plain trickling. Yes, it is beguiling. We talked at length about creative practice, previous topological works and her upcoming solo show. What follows is an edited interview with the artist completed in December 2011.

Winn Rea, Falling Water 2, 2011. Installation views from New York City's St. John The Divine, 2011-2012. Image courtesy Winn Rea.

Patricia: Winn, I was so pleased to see your piece at the Cathedral. It's an amazing space and your installation transfers a sense of presence that reproduces the human relationship to water, in terms of size and necessity.
It is true, we humans are mesmerized by how water works in the environment—cascading through crevices and down cliffs, each drop seems fragile as it glints and refracts the light, but collectively, over time, their incredible power carves chasms in bedrock. Similarly, the tall, vertical volumes of spiral cut water bottles sparkle and glow—their immateriality belie the incredible forces exerted by the cathedral on the columns they inhabit.

Your piece conveys that, completely. How did you begin to shape ideas for Falling Water 2?
The work evolved in both formal and conceptual terms: First, it began as an exploration of material. I wanted to take a common, readily available material and transform it. I considered the sculptural possibilities inherent in the plastic cylinder of the water bottle. The spiral cut worked in consonance with the geometry,

Comments [5]

Marcie Bianco's picture

what a sense of the majestic

what a sense of the majestic imparted by these images—i'm sure, elevated and made more palpable by the space of the church itself. +1

patricia's picture

it's a must-see show!

Word. It's an incredible space—I mean, it's technically in the top 5 largest cathedrals of the world! I hope you make the time to see this show. 

Marcie Bianco's picture

am planning to see it this

am planning to see it this weekend—thanks for bringing the installation to my attn, PS!

Grace Moon's picture


so many good things to see on winter break!

really want to see this show... if only all churches were this enlightened.

also we mus go to

and this sat at the BK Musem

tweet tweet @gracemoon

patricia's picture

do you usually go to BMA on 1st Sats?

I don't think you're ready to see me dance just yet.