By Stephanie Stuckey, Staff Reporter
MERIDIAE (pronounced muh-rid-ee-ay) is the name of the artwork being displayed in the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History’s Grand Lobby and created by CNM art teacher Lea Anderson.
Anderson was invited by the museum’s curator Andrew Connors to serve as the 2015 Summer Artist-in-Residence, which according to Anderson, was an incredible honor for her.
“The curator trusted her to do anything she wanted with the space, which was exciting because it is a rare opportunity to be able to create artwork somewhere other than the conventional canvas or piece of paper,” Anderson said.
This made her think outside the box and think about how to make the space work for her, she said.
The lobby has a lot of interesting architecture and nook & cranny type spaces, but what really made an impression on her was the window which she described as dramatic and a good focal point, she said.
The window really made her think about how it represents a connection between the millions of ideas inside of the museum and the millions of ideas just outside of the museum, she said.
“The connection between where we are at any one particular time and the outside is represented symbolically with the window being the channel of connection between this world and that world,” she said.
This is when she had to really think about how she was going to visually represent all those ideas being shared and connected, Anderson said.
She began work in June 2015 with a previous piece of artwork she had made, she said.
According to Anderson, it is a small piece with about 100 little circles with all types of different designs in them.
She took a picture of the artwork and enlarged it to serve as a model; a visualization of her idea of connection, she said.
Anderson enlarged the photograph to 20 feet and laid the grid of widows in the lobby over the photograph, she said.
She noticed the circular shape with the grid began to look like a globe or a map with the lines of latitude, longitude, and the equator which fit because she thought of the original piece as being many worlds within a huge world in a symbolic sense, she said.
Upon researching globes and maps she came across the word meridian, which is a circle of constant longitude passing through a given place on the earth’s surface, she said.
Anderson said of MERIDIAE that it could be a slice of many worlds that suddenly materialize and the connections become visible.
She said she did not like the plural word for meridian, so she made up the word meridiae.
It has no other meaning, the word does not exist, Anderson said.
She thought the word was interesting because it sounds like a spiritual name and a scientific name at the same time, she stated.
Anderson said she likes to think in relation to the piece as the window being the surface of a painting and what is behind the painting is suddenly visible as well.
“You can see beyond just the painting, you can see what really went into it and get a sense of the personality of the artist,” she said.
MERIDIAE was installed in 15 days after working for 7 hours per day at the museum and spending hundreds of hours on the computer, she said.
She related this experience to a runner who is training for a marathon and then actually runs the marathon – this was her marathon, she said.
MERIDIAE was compiled using the original photograph as the little shapes inside, suggesting that everything in life is interconnected, she said.
Anderson said the inspiration for the colors she chose to use were taken from the architectural elements of the beams in the windows.
Below the big beam in the middle she chose to use blue or any variations of blue possible, she said.
Representing water, someone’s subconscious, the underworld, or just another place, she said.
Above the beam, it is multicolored, which can suggest flowers or the emergence of life, Anderson said.
The beauty of it is that it is not meant to have just one specific interpretation, it is important for it to be easy for people to come up with their own interpretations, she said.
According to Anderson, there are many factors to consider when doing an installation artwork piece: what materials should be used, how the light will affect the art work, how the people will interact with it, how long it can last, and the possibility of it breaking.
The material that was used is a thick acetate type of plastic and a giant flat-bed printer from Albuquerque Reprographics (ARI) to print the images onto the plastic, Anderson said.
Highly pigmented ink intended to be light fast was used for the color, it is the same material used on signs meant to hang in windows to ensure there would be no fading, she said.
Anderson said each shape was cut-out individually with the help of her former intern and former CNM student Jesse Garcia and others.
Although she used technology for the piece, there is still the process of real hand-made work, she said.
After cutting out all the pieces by hand, Anderson said she glued each piece on herself ensuring everything was in place.
Anderson said she is not sure if touch-ups will be needed, as she thoroughly tested the material, but is willing to touch it up if necessary.
As she glued the last piece on and took a step back to take a look she was really excited, but surprised at how big it actually turned out, she said.
The thing that excites her the most is seeing how other people interact with MERIDIAE, she said.
Anderson strongly suggests students visit Albuquerque’s Museum of Art and History, not only to experience MERIDIAE for themselves, but because the curator of the museum puts a lot of effort into catering to the likes of Albuquerque’s residents, she said.
The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
The museum is closed Mondays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day, according to albuquerquemuseum.org.
General museum admission is free every Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on the first Wednesday of every month, and from 5:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on the 3rd Thursday evening of every month (fees for special exhibits and events still apply on free times).
Otherwise, general admission tickets for N.M. residents are $2 for seniors, $3 for adults (19-64), $3 for teens (13-18) and $1 for children (4-12).