Kate Cheney Chappell Art Space

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Kingswood-Oxford Installation

A commission to create a hanging sculpture for the new science building at my alma mater, Kingswood-Oxford School in West Hartford CT, pushed me to explore mixed media in three dimensions. The multi-year project resulted in a 15’ long steel and paper mobile, three double helices suspended from the arms of a 5’ wide steel starfish. Entitled All Life Interrelated, it reflects the theme of the interconnectedness of life. Based on a quote from Rachel Carson spelled out in runes on the cross-members, each DNA-like double helix represents a realm: sea, earth, sky. Creatures on the paper skin emphasize symbiosis and connections between species.

All Life Interrelated is now a permanent part of the Chase Tallwood Science Math and Technology Center at Kingswood-Oxford School, officially dedicated September 25, 2015. A related exhibit of 2-D work surrounded the sculpture on the walls of the mezzanine floor accompanied a text about each “realm” and some of the biology and ecology lessons that can be explored.

All the life of the planet is interrelated…each species has its own ties to others and…all are related to the earth.
- Rachel Carson 1907—1964

Steel Armatures

With the help of an engineer, I designed the spiraling steel rods of 3 double helices, and learned to weld.

Click on the image at left to see more of the welding and gluing processes

Paper Skins

Printmaking residencies at the Vermont Studio Center enabled me to produce a large number of two-sided paper strips as well as free-floating paper creatures to hang from the armatures. Using neodymium magnets, I was able to experiment with the positioning and relationships of these sections.

Click on the image at left to see more of the paper skins

Starfish Holder

Unifying the three parts, the starfish has openings in its matrix that allow light to shine from above to illuminate the double helices hanging from three of its five arms. Built of solid stainless steel, the starfish, painted copper and covered in a matrix of darker copper paper. It lives closest to the highest part of the atrium of the building, and supports the three helices that hang down through the mezzanine floor to the open space as you enter the building.

Click on the image at left to see more of the starfish

Creatures in the Matrix

Each double helix represents a different realm: earth, sea, sky. Creatures who have connections to each other inhabit these ecosystems: e.g., the red knot bird and the horseshoe crab on which it depends for its long migration.

Click on the image at left to see more of the starfish


Hanging the sculpture took three days, because much of the assembly of the parts had to be transported separately in a box van, and assembled on site. Our impromptu workshop in situ included lots of specially formulated glue, collage pieces, and the steel forms. Many hands helped hoist the respective parts, and the hydraulic lift was indispensable!

Click on the image at left to see more of the helixes being hung