Michael Jones McKean's The Rainbow: Certain Principles of Light and
Shapes Between Forms creates a simple but phenomenal visual
event—a rainbow in the sky. The public artwork will produce temporary
rainbows above the Bemis Center using the most elemental materials:
sunlight and rainwater. Twice per day with clear sun, for 20 minutes each,
a rainbow will appear above Bemis Center's downtown building.
This commissioned artwork and exhibition represents extensive
cross-disciplinary collaboration. Irrigation and rainwater harvesting
experts from Omaha-based Lindsay Corporation and Watertronics, structural
and mechanical engineers, atmospheric scientists, plumbing and electrical
experts have joined McKean in creating a wholly integrated system for this
site-specific work. McKean's work will amplify the placeless, celebratory,
seductive, and elusive qualities of the spectacular event of a rainbow.
Leading up to the exhibition, extensive modifications to the Bemis
Center's five-story, repurposed industrial warehouse took
place—creating a completely self-contained water harvesting and
large-scale storage system. Throughout the project cycle, collected and
recaptured storm water will be filtered and stored in six above-ground,
10,500 gallon water tanks. Within the gallery, a custom designed
60-horsepower pump supplies pressurized water to nine nozzles mounted to
the 20,000 square foot roof of the Bemis Center. In the morning and early
evening, a dense water-wall will be projected above the building in which a
rainbow will emerge. Based on atmospheric conditions, vantage point,
available sunlight and the changing angle of the sun in the sky, each
rainbow will have a singular character and quality—one could see the
rainbow from a thousand feet away or seemingly touch it with your hand.
A rainbow operates as an egalitarian visual experience. It is by
nature temporary, undetermined, and wonderful. The Rainbow exists
somewhere between real and representation, actual and artifice. McKean is
deeply interested in the rainbow as a complex form—ephemeral and
steeped in mythology—that possesses an out-of-time existence as pure
optical phenomena. The image of a rainbow extends through time, surpassing
our known and archived histories, and operates as a constant unchanged
form. Although the symbol of a rainbow has been co-opted, politicized,
branded, and commodified, an actual prismatic rainbow still has an ability
to jolt us from the everyday. It feels hopeful, yearning, optimistic,
ghost-like, and meaningful.
The Rainbow is a work of
significant logistical complexity that realizes a silent, delicate, and
temporary visual experience. The work provides a direct and momentous
experience of art, science, ecology, and wonder.
Certain Principles of Light and Shapes Between Forms is curated by
Hesse McGraw, Bemis Center chief curator.
Michael Jones McKean (Truk Island, Micronesia, 1976) is an
internationally recognized American artist. He is the recipient of numerous
awards, most recently a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Nancy Graves Foundation
Award, and an Artadia Award. McKean has been in residence at The Core
Program at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; The International
Studio and Curatorial Program, New York City; The Provincetown Fine Arts
Work Center; the Bemis Center; The Archie Bray Foundation, Helena, Montana;
and ThreeWalls, Chicago, Illinois.
McKean's work is represented
by Horton Gallery in New York City and Gentili Apri in Berlin, Germany. He
is an Associate Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University in the
Sculpture and Extended Media Department.
About the Bemis
The Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts was founded in 1981
by artists, for artists. Bemis Center's sole mission is to support
contemporary artists of exceptional talent. In this spirit, the Bemis
Center seeks to perpetually give the institution to artists working at the
forefront of contemporary culture. Our international artist-in-residence
program, exhibitions, projects, and community arts programs provide direct
support to artists' process and catalyze their work to engage and challenge
For more information contact Logan Seacrest, Bemis
Center communications manager at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Rainbow Lead Sponsor: Lindsay Corporation
Rainbow Sponsors: Carol Gendler, Marathon Realty; Todd and Betiana
Simon Foundation; Snyder Industries, Inc.; Rybin Plumbing & Heating;
Davis Erection and Crane Rental & Rigging; Mobile Roadie; North Sea
Additional Project Partners: Joseph A. Zehnder; Education
Power, Robert Webber; Warren Distribution; Project Projects
Center Exhibitions Presenting Sponsor: Omaha Steaks