Studio Views: Susan J. Champeny

Artist Susan J. Champeny is busy preparing her ReinCARnation Hubcap Lily Pads public art installation for the Art in the Park in Elm Park, Worcester MA, July 25-October 13.

We asked Susan to participate in a “Studio Views” post – recognizing that the “studio” for a work of public art can be decidedly exterior. Here, she shares a journal of the making of the original version of this project (re-published with permission from the artist’s web site).

ReinCARnation had a maiden voyage as part of the Art on the Beltline exhibit in Atlanta GA last fall. It used 63 recycled hubcaps, the maximum that fit in my car for the 1200-mile drive. Half of the hubcaps did not survive the journey, but for a good reason! I gave them to generous folks willing to give Gas Grants to cover the cost of transporting the sculpture to/from Atlanta.

Aug 25: Setting out from Worcester MA. In my Honda fit: Sue, Chris, 63 hubcaps, floatation, canoe, first aid kit, anchors, waders, guitar.

Aug 29: The crew assembled at 8 AM in the Publix Supermarket parking lot. Elan and Jenny, both Beltline employees, cleared the 6 foot high brush with machetes.

I laid out tarps and zip-tied the hubcap lily pads together. Then I climbed in my canoe to receive the artwork.

Jenny, Yvonne, and Chantelle (Light Parade artist) dragged the tarps full of hubcaps down the 10 foot embankment into the water.

I towed the lily pads into place and tied off the anchors. Getting the weights (laundry bottles full of 40 lbs of sand) out of the canoe without tipping over was a challenge! The entire thing, including brush clearing, took 4.5 hours to complete.

Aug 31: while photographing the lily pads, I zoomed in on an annoying leaf – only to discover it was a FROG! The Hubcap Lily Pads are now successfully occupied by wildlife.

Now I am re-building the sculpture for Elm Park — bigger and better. I am feverishly working to prepare the sculpture to go into the water for the Thursday July 25th installation: washing over 100 recycled hubcaps, painting them bright orange and hot pink, and adding pool noodles underneath for flotation. This new edition will sport 20 hubcaps from the original installation and another 60-80 foraged from the streets of Worcester last winter.

ReinCARnation Hubcap Lily Pads will be on exhibit July 25-October 13, 2013 at Elm Park as part of Art in the Park Worcester. You can watch the installation Thursday July 25 9AM-12PM. Opening is Saturday July 27, 5-8 PM. There will be an Artist Talk Thursday, August 1, 2013, 5:30-6:30 PM.

Susan Champeny ( graduated from the Massachusetts College of Art in Fine Arts, with a major in Printmaking. She quickly found employment as a graphic designer, and worked in the field of commercial art for 20 years. While working in the corporate world, she continued to paint and create fine art. In 2006, she changed careers and is now a Fine Artist, painting full-time. Her business plan is based on three principles: have fun, create, and travel.

Images: all images courtesy of Susan J. Champeny, photos by D. Christine Benders.

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