"The closer the connection we feel to nature, the more we're likely to stand up and defend it." - Charles Johnson
How do hundreds of sawn discs hanging from a ceiling evoke a sense of being in the woods? I don’t know, but Elizabeth Billings’ assemblages mirror the patterns of nature in an uncanny and profound way.
Consider “So It Goes,” an installation that hangs in the stairwell leading to the South Royalton Legal Clinic at the Vermont Law School. The clinic provides free legal services to low-income local residents, and Billings wanted to design a piece that would impart a sense of nature, light, and playfulness to the building. The installation reflects that intent by inviting the viewer into a world of organic matter that is dancing through the air, animated by the moving perspective of the viewer and the changing light. The hundreds of poplar rounds trace a musical path in the aerial environment – one is reminded of the hammers and strings of a piano. You can nearly hear a clackity-clack as you pass beneath it.
When asked how she describes herself as an artist, Billings explains that she was trained as a weaver – both in the U.S. and Japan – and uses this knowledge to inform her work with wood, fabric, wire, and string. Her artistic practice is clearly inspired by the rhythm of weaving and the rhythms of nature. Fittingly, she chooses to work primarily with natural, sustainable materials.
As you approach and then pass beneath “So It Goes,” you feel surprised, uplifted, and also encouraged to be part of this complex visual symphony. An otherwise unremarkable stairwell in a public building has been transformed.
Elizabeth Billings may be reached through her website. She maintains a strong exhibit record both nationally and internationally. Her work, both solo and in collaboration with Andrea Wasserman, can be seen at the Burlington International Airport, Philadelphia International Airport, through the Vermont Law School, and at The City University of New York School of Law.