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‘Looking for a silver lining’

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Sitting in Arroyo Seco, Capsule is surrounded by natural beauty.

The mountains are the backdrop to the 20-foot steel-and-glass sculpture created by Christian Ristow and Christina Sporrong.

The art installation is a response to the civil unrest and general feeling of uncertainty that is 2020.

Capsule is a large-scale art installation by Christian Ristow and Christina Sporrong located in Arroyo Seco. (Courtesy of Cecila Cuff)

“It’s a chance to bring community during this tumultuous year,” says J. Matt Thomas of the Paseo Project.

Seco Live teamed up with The Paseo Project to present the art installation.

“We recognize that art is important to mental health and wellness. Especially during times of great change and civil unrest, art has proven to be an important tool for healthy expression,” says Cecilia Cuff.

Cuff is the director of Parse Seco, an experimental creative space and art residency for underrepresented and emerging artists, located in the village of Arroyo Seco.

She is also a board member for Seco Live, a local nonprofit that showcases diverse talent from all over the world through community events, fundraising and promotion.

Thomas was trying to re-imagine the Paseo’s annual event of outdoor art when Seco Live approached The Paseo Project to collaborate.

“We’re launching a summer series that can be enjoyed safely, from a distance – time-release art, so that you can get your Paseo fix all summer long,” Thomas says. “Our 2020 theme was already ‘Transformations,’ so we’re stepping into the challenge.”

The artists designed Capsule to hold the written thoughts, fears and hopes of people.

Its six-legged base supports a faceted body, atop which three large hands hold a radiant sphere.

Flowers were one of the various inspirations influencing the piece – its forms mimic petals, stem and pistils, as well as organic unfolding.

Visitors are encouraged to approach the sculpture and insert a wish, fear, story or drawing on paper. In addition to visiting the site, there are also opportunities to participate online and through the mail.

Ristow and Sporrong are both known around the world for making massive sculptural projects that incorporate robotics, fire and interactive elements.

Christian Ristow and Christina Sporrong are the masterminds behind Capsule, located in Arroyo Seco. (Courtesy of Cecila Cuff)

Capsule is the couple’s first collaborative project, as well as their first local commission.

“Our idea came quickly,” says Sporrong of the assignment to conceptualize a site-specific artwork that meshed both artists’ talents. “We wanted to create an opportunity for transformation. We keep looking for a silver lining.”

While Capsule was commissioned in response to the novel coronavirus, it has revealed itself to be equally responsive to the civil, political and economic unrest sweeping the country.

“It’s good to be inflamed,” Ristow says. “Fire can be both destructive and purifying.”

After its initial presentation and transformation in Arroyo Seco, the sculpture will travel to other locations where it will close and open again.

“We see it as a life cycle. We hope that it can bring meaning and catharsis to our town and to others,” says Sporrong.

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