Mavis, (Light Ship) 2022

Glass, Plywood, Sheetrock, Light Captured from Windows

22 x 16 x 14 feet

Installation View at the Harwood Museum of Art

Solo Exhibition "Debbie Long: Light Ships" March 19-Oct 9, 2022

Photo Andrew Yates

How to bring the sky inside?  Mavis is illuminated solely by light captured from the Harwood Museum's high north-facing windows and shifts with the changing light of the sky throughout the day.

Visitors enter Mavis through a tunnel that opens into an interior chamber lined with handmade cast glass pieces lit solely by light from the sky. Up to 6 people at a time are invited to lie on beanbag chairs and look upward as light slowly shifts in this dusky twilight light environment.

To build the piece, I first built a modular inner chamber—a plywood room that can be disassembled and reassembled on site—and set it up at my studio in Taos. Next I cast each piece of glass by hand at my studio in Taos and installed the glass inside the chamber.  Finally, I moved the chamber to the Harwood Museum. At the Museum the leaning sheet rock walls were built around the inner chamber to capture light from a bank of high north-facing windows, directing the light down into the chamber to illuminate the glass within. There is no electric light in the piece.

Mavis is my largest indoor light work to date. This was my first experience making a scale model and drawings of an architectural space this large, and it was exciting to see my small model come to life. I used old-school graph paper, pencils, and foam core.

For the last decade I've been building light sculptures to be installed in the remote landscape that are illuminated directly by the sky, the sun and moon. These land and sky-based works are where my heart resides.  So when asked to build a piece inside the Harwood Museum the question was, how to bring the sky inside?

Photo Nathan Burton