musings & publications

Hibernation: Resting in Peace: A Sculptural Installation By Jen Raimondi
by Doug Norris. read this article...

Essay for Hibernation: Resting In Peace
Ellen Driscoll, 2006. read this article...

Essay for Hibernation: Resting In Peace
by Cynthia Farnell, May 2006. read this article...

Editor’s Note, “Art of the matter,” excerpt Janine Weisman, editor. read this article...

“Creature Discomfort” by Cynthia Farnell. read this article...

Hibernation: Resting in Peace: A Sculptural Installation By Jen Raimondi. Doug Norris.

Art New England
Volume 27, Issue 6, October/November 2006, p. 21

Fort Adams is the sleeping giant of Rhode Island landmarks, a massive fortification built for a war it never saw. Over the years, grass and graffiti transformed the fort into an architectural reminder of a lost era, an icon of America's maritime heyday, looming against the broad, blue sea that defines the Ocean State.

Generations played on its ramparts and explored its tunnels, beginning a tradition that became part of every Rhode Islander’s childhood. Something about its emptiness, its unfulfilled potential, its dramatic evocation of the past still calls visitors to the site, lured by the sensual surroundings of wind, wave, and wild sky and the timeless connections they inspire.

Death and loss – a sense of the funereal and the fitful sleep of Father Time – are themes here, which artist Jen Raimondi taps into with an eloquent pairing of sculptural installations in the restored stone and brick interior of the fort’s north wall.

In the familiar, comfortable vastness of the fort, the sculptures stand out as shocking and surreal, transforming the space from a predictable, static landmark into a fantasy dimension where anything is possible.

Part one: tree is a replicated staghorn sumac tree, opaque white, molded from branches and cast in the marblelike casing of Forton MG. The tree is bolted and balanced horizontally. Visually, the white branches evoke antlers, echoing the myth of the white stag – that elusive prize animal of the hunt, denizen of the folkloric forests that have mostly disappeared from the modern imagination.

The tree also stands for time passing on this windswept plain, organic life rendered ghostly and skeletal, its form suspended in midair as if in sleeping pose. The vertical vibrancy of its former life is over. What remains is fragmentary and ephemeral, an acknowledgment of what vanishes and yet resonates in empty spaces that once heard voices and contained breath.

Part two: bird is an ostrich-size, headless, neckless bird standing amid a swath of dry, frosty bramble. Made from coque feathers – painstakingly inserted one at a time – foam, cast, and oil-painted Forton MG and steel, the bird is a bizarre dreamlike figure, isolated from its flock. The solitary nature of its presence suggests a sense of loss and loneliness, yet its appearance is strangely comforting. It’s as if the creature is meant to serve as the guardian of this desolate place, protecting its secrets and charms from those who would claim it for a strip mall or office park.

Together the horizontal white tree and the standing headless bird make for a dynamic diptych, an odd coupling forged out of some strange limbo of nature and imagination. In their silent poses, they underscore the stillness of this place, a landscape intended for a war that embodies all that is peaceful and meditative on the Rhode Island coast. In the end, the fallen tree and mute, flightless bird become metaphors for the fort itself, a place where the fleeting notions of irony, paradox, natural beauty, watchfulness, and waiting find permanence.