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Artists That Inspire Me: Luke Jerram

Making people stop to have another look at the unexpected.


I recently read an article about an art installation called ‘Play Me I’m Yours’, which consisted of pianos, placed in public locations, challenging concepts of ownership and the interactions and behaviors we engage in, in public spaces. The pianos which sit in parks, bus depots, football fields and on sidewalks (to name a few locations) can be played by anyone for any length of time (well, provided their neighbors agree) and are both beautiful to look at as well as catalysts for interaction between people who might otherwise never speak to each other.



One of my favorite college electives was Environmental Art. I loved the idea of taking spaces where there might be a preconceived structure and use, and introducing an element that might cause someone to stop, if only for a moment, to have another look at something they no longer take the time to notice as they rush through life. Art in general serves this purpose, but this type of art is kind of free-range (for lack of a better term), coming to meet us in our natural environment rather than in a sterile exhibition environment. It provides us an intermission, a pause, a deep breath…when we least expect it, and often when we need it the most. It re-engages us with our world.

In my fantasy life I’d be Luke Jerram, the artist who created ‘Play Me I’m Yours’. He’s a UK based artist who creates sculptures, installations, live arts projects and gifts. His work is awesome!

Probably my favorite of his projects were his engagement ring and wedding bands. Most people are content to run out to the nearest jewelry store to pick out a princess cut something or the other. Jerram however created his own ring for his intended, paying homage to Thomas Edison in the process. Working with a jeweler and a vinyl record manufacturer, he created a ring with a 20 second audio track of his proposal etched into its surface, and an accompanying special mini record-player on which it could be played.



For a wedding band, Jerram decided to incorporate 19th century micro-photography techniques to create a ring with a tiny embedded slide show of family portraits. When the ring is held up to a light, it actually projects the images! I don’t know about you, but I think that just makes the typical wedding band seem lazy!



I couldn’t possibly talk about all of Jerram’s projects here (you’ll have to go to his website for that), but I wanted to mention one last work I really liked. ‘Past, Present and Future’ is sculpture exhibit made up of large-scale clear glass sculptures of the HIV, Smallpox and Avian Flu viruses. It’s amazing that without the scary, crazy colors we typically see in medical imagery of these viruses (they are not those colors in real life btw), they are in fact as beautiful as they are deadly. Jerram’s intent, aside from studying the impact of these viruses, was to examine how color creates emotional responses like awe or fear.



If you like clever, conceptual art, be sure to check out Luke Jerram’s website.

I really want those pianos to show up in Savannah one day. How do we make that happen? Ideas anybody?

Susan Isaacs

Susan’s a multitask-er who prides herself on the vast number of things (read: loose papers and coffee cups) on her desk at any one time, and yet she still manages to keep an eye on all the moving parts at Paragon.