If you’re walking East Avenue during daylight hours this summer and fall, you might find your eyes drawn to a shimmering wall facing a pocket park off Broadway. An installation of mirrored stickers affixed to the exterior of the neighboring Rochester Contemporary Art Center catches the light in such a way that it makes a glittering almost-mirage that beckons passersby to pause, look closer, and follow the instructions the work spells out: “BREATHE.”*
I was taught to pay attention to my breath when I was a little monk. It is a way of observing the present and the concept of being alive. As I’ve grown up this concept still follows me.
For me, the single word that resonates with the chaotic past, the contemporary present, and the dream future, is “Breathe”.
I came from a city with some of the worst air quality on earth. Immigrating to the United States before Christmas in 2019 I was happy to be able to breathe in the fresh air of Upstate New York, something very easily taken for granted. Unfortunately, it was not so long to breathe freely before we all had to wear masks to slow down the spreading of the new virus, the pandemic that stole the breath from so many.
For me, BREATHE semantically and personally connects many of the most important issues of the time; a pandemic that stole the breath of so many, global warming and air quality, and the racial justice movement, while also pointing to the meaning of life and hope for the future.
BREATHE wants to invite the public to pause to breathe. Through its geometric semi-abstract design and the reflective effect of the mirror, I hope people will find their own interpretation of what it means to be alive.
*Text by Rebecca Rafferty from CITY magazine’s interview on July 30, 2021
Originally commissioned by the Public Sculpture Program at Rochester Contemporary Art Center Rochester, NY.
Year: 2021 (June 15, 2021 – present)
Dimension: 1,130″ x 170″ / 94 x 14 ft / 28.7 x 4.3 m
Materials: plywood, vinyl, screws, acrylic paint
Venue: Rochester Contemporary Art Center and Christ Church, Rochester, New York