The Indianapolis Museum of Art has commissioned a Cambodian artist to create a piece for its Efroymson Family Entrance Pavilion. Sopheap Pich's “A Room” will feature dozens of strips of real and artificial bamboo designed to resemble the forests of the Southeast Asian nation.

November 5, 2013

News Release

Indianapolis, Ind. — The Indianapolis Museum of Art today announced that it has commissioned Cambodian artist Sopheap Pich to create a new installation as part of the IMA's Efroymson Family Entrance Pavilion series. Pich’s new project, A Room, will occupy a 26-foot diameter circular space in the atrium of the IMA and will consist of nearly 1,200 bamboo strips, extending 40 feet from the atrium’s ceiling to floor. A Room will be on display from February 27 through August 24, 2014.

In all of his scultptural work, Pich uses forms and materials, primarily bamboo and rattan, which are readily available near his studio in Cambodia and are also metaphorically loaded with Cambodian national identity, history and industry. For his expansive installations, Pich transforms these bamboo and rattan elements into architectural, hollow latticed sculptures that are reminiscent of utilitarian objects, such as baskets and fish traps, that have been used in Cambodia for generations. For his upcoming project at the IMA, Pich, inspired by the abundance of natural light in the Efroymson Family Entrance Pavilion, has decided to create a minimal space of contemplation, which will foster the experience of seeing light through a forest of closely grown trees in a modern city.

“Upon visiting the Indianapolis Museum of Art and seeing the tall and vast space of the Efroymson Pavilion, I was first struck by the natural light that dominates the space, and decided that I wanted to create a space where visitors could enjoy a contemplative experience,” said Pich. “When working, I always have in mind issues of poverty, the contrast of inside and outside, fragility, monumentality, lightness, and strength, and A Room is a perfect representation of the confluence of these ideas.”

A Room will consist of a circular configuration of dozens of two centimeter-wide strips of real and artificial bamboo cast from various metals, including plastic, bronze, and aluminum, all spanning the entire height of the pavilion. The strips will be approximately 36 feet in length, joined together to hang freely from the Pavilion’s ceiling—allowing visitors to part them like a curtain and enter the meditative space housed within. Once inside the space, the phenomenon of the natural light bouncing off of and piercing the slats between the bamboo strips is intended to evoke the sense of light within Cambodia’s bamboo forests, where Pich will have gathered much of the installation’s materials. By devising A Room out of bamboo, Pich will create a contrast between the aluminum, glass, and cement structure of the Pavilion and the warmth of bamboo and the various bright and subtle colors of the different bamboo castings. The installation’s simple geometric form punctuated by bold variations in color also references the mid-20th century, American painters that have long inspired Pich’s work, such as Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko and Morris Louis.

“Sopheap Pich's project will transport visitors from Indianapolis to the bamboo forests of Cambodia through a light-infused, contemplative experience,” said Dr. Charles L. Venable, The Melvin & Bren Simon Director and CEO. “Pich's monumental yet meditative work has a unique ability to evoke both awe and serenity, and we look forward to introducing this pioneering artist to our audiences. The IMA is extremely grateful to the Efroymson family for their visionary support of this commission and all those that have come before it.”

A Room is part of the Efroymson Family Entrance Pavilion contemporary installation series launched in February 2007 and made possible by a $2.5 million grant from the Indianapolis-based Efroymson Family Fund, a fund of the Central Indiana Community Foundation. The works are installed on a rotating basis with a new work from a different artist approximately every six months. Artists who have previously exhibited in the space include Alyson Shotz, William Lamson, Orly Genger, Spencer Finch, and Tony Feher, among others.

About Sopheap Pich

Sopheap Pich was born in 1971 in Battambang, Cambodia. He received a BFA from the University of Massachusetts (Amherst) in 1995, followed by an MFA in painting from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1999. His work has been exhibited extensively in Asia, the United States, Europe and Australia. Pich was recently given a highly acclaimed solo exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, entitled Cambodian Rattan: The Sculptures of Sopheap Pich (February 23—July 7, 2013). He has been included in many prestigious international exhibitions, including the Moscow Biennale, Moscow, Russia (2013), dOCUMENTA, Kassel, Germany (2012); Asian Art Biennial, Taichung, Taiwan (2011); the Singapore Biennale (2011); the Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale, Fukuoka, Japan (2009); and the Asia-Pacific Triennial, Brisbane, Australia (2009). Pich’s 2011 work, Compound, was the focus of a solo exhibition at Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, Wash. (2011-12) and was recently on display as part of the exhibition Invisible Cities at MASS MoCA, North Adams, Mass. (2012-13). His work is included in many museum collections around the world, including: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France; Singapore Art Museum, Singapore; Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia; Museum of Arts and Design, New York, NY; Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Mass.

About the Efroymson Family Fund

The Efroymson Family established the Efroymson Family Fund through the Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF) to continue its tradition of philanthropic giving to causes in the central Indiana area. The fund, which contributed the $5 million gift to the IMA that supported the construction of the Pavilion in 2002, was established to benefit several areas of interest including the arts, historic preservation, the environment and projects for the welfare of the Jewish people. It also has provided fellowships to support the work of emerging and established contemporary artists in Indiana.

About the Indianapolis Museum of Art

Encompassing 152 acres of gardens and grounds, the Indianapolis Museum of Art is among the 10 oldest and 10 largest encyclopedic art museums in the United States and features significant collections of African, American, Asian, European, contemporary art, and design arts. The IMA offers visitors an expansive view of arts and culture through its collection of more than 54,000 works of art that span 5,000 years of history from across the world’s continents. The collections include paintings, sculpture, furniture and design objects, prints, drawings and photographs, as well as textiles and costumes.

Additionally, art, design, and nature are featured at The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park: 100 Acres and Oldfields–Lilly House and Gardens, a historic Country Place Era estate and National Historic Landmark on the IMA grounds. In 2013, the IMA celebrates the Oldfields centennial with a year of commemorative programs. Beyond the Indianapolis campus, in May 2011 the IMA opened to the public Miller House and Garden in Columbus, Indiana. One of the country’s most highly regarded examples of mid-century Modernist residences, the Miller House was designed by Eero Saarinen, with interiors by Alexander Girard, and landscape design by Dan Kiley.

Located at 4000 Michigan Road, the IMA is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Lilly House is open until 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. The IMA is closed Mondays and Thanksgiving, Christmas

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