Sculptural installation by New London artists wins award

The co-winners of Connecticut Sea Grant’s 2017 Arts Support Awards Program are Diane Barcelo and Ashby Carlisle, both New London residents.

This annual $1,000 competitive award, selected by an external panel of art experts, is awarded to an artist whose work supports Sea Grant’s mission of enhancing understanding and awareness of Connecticut’s marine coastal environment and maritime heritage. Connecticut Sea Grant is at University of Connecticut’s Avery Point campus.

The artists’ project, “They Came by Water,” is a sculptural installation, using copper wire to spell the words associated with the concept of water from the different languages of New London’s population during the height of the whaling industry in the 18th and 19th centuries.

“In the mid-19th century, New London was the most diverse city in the United States. People from all around the world converged in this bustling port town to participate in the whaling industry. The coexistence of their many languages is the inspiration for our sculptural installation.” Barcelo and Carlisle explained in their application. The words formed out of copper, suspended in layers, create a “word matrix” that “dynamically interacts and overlaps to imply intersections and intermingling of diverse languages and people.”

The work will also be on display at the Marquee Gallery on State Street in New London throughout the summer. The artists envision that their work will continue to grow throughout the year, and they hope to add an audio component that “includes the sound and rhythm of the sea layered against the oral languages of Native Americans and African Americans speaking/singing the water words that are in the installation.” They are also planning to investigate the incorporation of other media, including video and performance, and to locate other venues to exhibit their work so it can be seen by a larger audience.

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