October 25, 2009

Dear City of Austin, Art in Public Places,

I would like to be considered for this opportunity and know that I can produce a powerful work that integrates with the unique characteristics of the site.

I grew up in a small house near the old airport in Austin, Texas. Every couple of hours a plane would fly overhead close enough that you couldn’t hear anything but engine noise for a few seconds. I first noticed the beautiful paintings by my parent’s college friend, Johnny Deckert [1] that hung in our house. These brightly colored airbrushed abstracts on clear vinyl were stretched so that the front of the painting was the back of the painted surface. My great-grandmother Demia Cross’ still life oil paintings were also in the house and hung above the couch. So from an early age, art seemed like something individuals created for a small group of people, who were primarily their friends and family.

My first transformative experience with contemporary art came when I visited Paris and then Documenta 11 in 2002. I fell in love with Philipe Parreno’s work, along with many of the other artists that refuted the impulse to restrict their output by format. Experiencing these works was a clear turning point in my personal history. This was art about ideas and the broader social contract. I want to work on projects like that.

I think my work is also influenced by our home’s continuous renovation and my experiences walking job sites with my architect father. Seeing the skeleton structures and equipment used to create these buildings captured my imagination. While not strictly an art experience, this peeled back the veil of the domestic space and I began to see all space as being built by a process, a series of steps planned out over time to fit the human scale.

I would like to quote contemporary art historian Till Richter, who recently published a paper on my approach:

“Where many other artists take a found object and insert it into a completely new context in the Duchampian method, Cross leaves the context intact and uses it to reveal the deeper meaning behind the work. His objects are not so much found objects as they are researched objects. It is this artistic research that connects the identity of the object, the artist and the viewer to create a new context that is both unique and can be experienced through the aesthetic form of the artwork.”

My approach to this project will follow a similar pattern to previous public art and large-scale installation projects I have proposed. I start with site vists and research. Then, move to drawings and material explorations to prepare an initial presentation. Typically this presentation includes a rough budget, timeline and scale model if possible. Feedback is received and then rounds of revision with emphasis on the stakeholders are incorporated. This feedback typically includes safety, budget, longevity, aesthetic and installation details. Once those are close to approval, we engage with an engineer to finalize any structural issues and then set to work on a final schedule with production and installation timelines.


Hunter Cross