Vera Lutter Photograph Installed at Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building
The final finishing touch was completed at the Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building last week with the installation of artwork by artist Vera Lutter. The work entitled Forest is part of GSA Art in Architecture Program which commissions American artists to create publicly scaled and permanently installed artworks for federal buildings nationwide.
Forest, a long-exposure translucent film image of a snow covered forest, is installed in the lobby of the building. Outputted onto four 100 x 56 inch translucent acrylic panels, Lutter’s photograph is both huge in scale and finely detailed and attains a sculptural status by one’s ability to move around it and experience it as a three-dimensional architectural element.
According to the artist, “within the dense habitat of the forest one experiences the individual tree as much as the intricate choreography between trees. Bringing this environment into a man-made space causes one to reflect on the fraught relationship between humans and nature complementing the architectural space itself and its effort to provide a sustainable, energy efficient structure.”
Lutter’s work is one of four pieces of art in the building. "River Legend" by Dimitri Hadzi and "Rumi's Dance" by Jack Youngerman were originally commissioned in 1976 for the building as it was designed by architects, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. “River Legend” is a monumental stone arch is located on a terrace at the eastern side of the building. "Rumi's Dance" is a monumentally-scaled tapestry displayed in the building lobby. The third piece, commissioned as part of the building’s modernization, is a large 3-dimensional wall art constructed of laminated acrylic sheet that celebrates the popular song, Louie, Louie, the accidental hit recorded 50 years ago in Portland by the Kingsmen at a Burnside Street recording studio. “Louie, Louie” was created by Tim Bavington and installed in May 2013.
Since 1972, GSA commissioned 408 artworks through the Art in Architecture Program, approximately 60 of which are displayed in GSA’s Northwest/Arctic four-state region. Together, the art and architecture of federal buildings create a lasting cultural legacy for the people of the United States.
About Vera Lutter’s Process
Vera Lutter is a photographer who uses a unique camera obscura technique to capture large-scale landscapes. Her technique involves creating a large format (room-sized) camera on-site to create a long-exposure translucent film image that is both huge in scale yet finely detailed.
To create Forest, Lutter essentially created a room using a temporary structure overlooking the forest into a giant pinhole camera. An inverted and reverse image of the scene was projected/exposed onto a wall-sized sheet of photographic paper via a small pinhole or aperture in the otherwise fully-darkened room.
Lutter chose to work in the winter when the ground was covered in snow--reflecting the light of the sky and illuminating the forest from underneath—which in negative form is transformed into a mysterious glow of black and gray. Lutter developed the pinhole photograph in a traditional darkroom. She then used a professional Hasselblad digital camera to generate an extremely high-quality digital copy of the photography, which was used to transfer the image onto the acrylic panels.