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Harmonitrees exhibit features eight harmonica-playing, pine-tree-shaped inflatables

Air-filled, tuneful-tree sculptures come to life Saturday, Oct. 17, through Friday, Oct. 23, during the virtual Harmonitrees exhibit at Stetson University’s Homer and Dolly Hand Art Center. The display will include eight sonic, kinetic and inflatable sculptures, featuring harmonious harmonicas producing musical sounds, created by composer, installation artist and oboist Sky Macklay.

“The Harmonitrees exhibit is unique and innovative because of the inclusion of motion into a three-dimensional sculpture and the incorporation of the viewer and their role in the sculpture’s performance,” said James Pearson, director of the Hand Art Center.

Macklay is also a visiting artist and composer who is participating in a one-week residency thanks to Stetson University’s Department of Creative Arts, the Artists and Lecturers Series, and Anne West Hall Visiting Artists Fund.

Macklay has written compositions that have been performed by ICE, the Splinter Reeds and Wet Ink Ensemble, an eclectic musical troupe that performed at Stetson University’s Second Stage Theatre in the Museum of Art – DeLand in April 2019.

The Harmonitrees exhibit will include one sculpture in the foyer and seven sculptures in the gallery. The tree height is between 5 and 10 feet tall to showcase a visual variety and develop a sonic envelope, or the amount of time it takes for the sound to fully begin.

Each sculpture, which takes Macklay at least three days to construct, includes transparent plastic and eight to 12 coverless mouth organs, so virtual viewers can observe how the sound and vibrations are created. Other materials include zip ties, wire, a high-powered fan in a wooden box, a foot-button with power chords and a smart plug.

The air escapes through deconstructed harmonicas that are strategically affixed to the plastic at the air-escape points. When the fan is turned on, it fills the structure with air and creates pressure that pushes air through the harmonicas and vibrates the harmonica tines to create a drone sound.

The Harmonitrees exhibit also will include seven beach ball-shaped inflatables filled with air by Stetson’s Sculpture II students.

Viewers can learn more about Macklay and her display during a free, livestreamed artist talk via Zoom 7-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20.

An improvised, recorded concert featuring the inflatable sculptures can be viewed on the Hard Art Center’s website at a later date.


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