When people enter the new contemporary art gallery at The Ringling, their eyes immediately go up, searching for the beginnings of the ripples.
In the rafters, thousands of hanging satin ribbons create an ocean of colors that sways. Light greens blend into blues, turning to hot red and burgundy in the middle before fading into darker blues and purples on the other end. Colored lights and projections dance at the top of the ribbon streams, and music plays in the background. The walls, draped with black stage curtains, enclose the space in its own mystery and invite guests inside it to explore.
Titled Pathless Woods, the exhibit functions as an interactive, multimedia work that invites visitors to find their own path as they walk through the ribbons. Opening Nov. 4, it’s the first installation in the Keith D. and Linda L. Monda Gallery of Contemporary Art and was created by The Ringling’s current artist in residence, Anne Patterson.
Patterson describes her newest ribbons project as “swimming through color.”
“You’ll be able to wander freely through this piece and find your way, swimming through all these areas that change colors as you go through them,” she said. “It’s this idea of moving through life and the choices you make, and sometimes you don’t make those choices, things just happen to you. How do you navigate that? Where does that move you? And I think this installation does that in a beautiful way, a gentle way.”
Patterson looks up at the 8,472 ribbons she and her team have spent more than 800 hours cutting and hanging . Her eyes are sharp with thought, her long, dangling earrings sparkling in the light of the projections.
“I want people to experience joy when they’re in the piece,” Patterson said after a moment. “And — some wonder.”
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