Scaling it Up / by marisa vitiello

Beate: Marisa, what made you work in this large format? You were scared of painting on 22" x 30" paper.

Marisa: I was excited by the idea of a window space where everyone could see (not just people in galleries) and also I love the idea of playing with 2D in 3D space. But I was terrified up until the very end of install. No doubt there. How about you?

Beate: It requires process and planning not just "messing it up."

Marisa: You like that? Ugh!

Beate: That's what I do in my professional life. So, how did it start?

Marisa: I heard a RadioLab story about a woman who lived in an apartment with a dolphin and I brought it to you to hear. We then started making paintings responding to this story. 

Beate: This was science in the 1960s. You couldn't do this kind of science in 2015. We thought this was really intriguing. Then we saw the call for the Tacoma Spaceworks ArtScapes program. We applied to make a display in a storefront window inspired by the story. This meant scaling up our painting.

Marisa: Actually, we changed our minds about how to do it 100 times. Remember when it was going to take about 1000 pieces of paper? We even abandoned the story for a while.

Beate: At the end we came back to the story and our rule of using black white and gold. Because it's a storefront on a busy corner, we wanted it visually pleasing and whimsical. I obsessed on almost every detail.

Marisa: Yes, when you went to the store to look for the right colored string to stitch the dolphin together and you were gone for over 2 hours! And by then I was just hoping we'd finish.

Beate: Too many words already! How about some pictures or our "Say My Name" project? You know, show, don't tell?

 Our sketch to figure out scale. A 13 foot dolphin?? The window is 23' wide by 10' deep with 12' ceilings. Oh my!

Our sketch to figure out scale. A 13 foot dolphin?? The window is 23' wide by 10' deep with 12' ceilings. Oh my!

 The white wall was intimidating but then we employed automatism on a bigger scale with super soakers, spray bottles, scrapers and a rag.

The white wall was intimidating but then we employed automatism on a bigger scale with super soakers, spray bottles, scrapers and a rag.

 Meredith Clark and Karen Manuel came to our rescue with their weapons.

Meredith Clark and Karen Manuel came to our rescue with their weapons.

 Looks like our drawings.

Looks like our drawings.

 This is the first drawing to figure out scaling and composition.

This is the first drawing to figure out scaling and composition.

 Finding a blank wall to transfer the images to scale was hard. The drawings looked huge in Marisa's house.

Finding a blank wall to transfer the images to scale was hard. The drawings looked huge in Marisa's house.

 Thank goodness for the help of Eric Graves, and his true craftsmanship. 

Thank goodness for the help of Eric Graves, and his true craftsmanship. 

 We transferred the images to plywood.

We transferred the images to plywood.

 Eric cut all the curves perfectly, particularly Margaret's hand and foot. He stayed up late looking at pictures of dolphins to figure out the exact curve of the dolphin's back.

Eric cut all the curves perfectly, particularly Margaret's hand and foot. He stayed up late looking at pictures of dolphins to figure out the exact curve of the dolphin's back.

 Painting was easy by comparison. It was just grunt work.

Painting was easy by comparison. It was just grunt work.

 Beate crocheted Margaret a swimsuit with the most beautiful yarn.

Beate crocheted Margaret a swimsuit with the most beautiful yarn.

 Finding the right height for the passing viewer was tricky.

Finding the right height for the passing viewer was tricky.

  We stitched the cutouts   together with yarn and string.

We stitched the cutouts together with yarn and string.

 Tom Yoder came to the rescue to help us hang things right.

Tom Yoder came to the rescue to help us hang things right.

Check out our finished installation "Say My Name" at the corner of 11th and Commerce in downtown Tacoma from now until August 21, 2015.

Thanks so much to Gabriel Brown, Tacoma Spaceworks,  Eric Graves, Karen Manuel, Meredith Clark, and Tom Yoder.

For more info about Tacoma Spaceworks: http://spaceworkstacoma.com/

Checkout the Radiolab episode that inspired this project at http://www.radiolab.org/story/hello/