6:00 AM Saturday morning: I awoke somehow refreshed and ready for installation. I couldn’t wait to see this go up! Chris decided to tag along for the day so we left around 8 am and began hauling boxes in. Sarah joined us and as we were deciding how to begin we were asked to come to a Live 360 opening breakfast. We were there a half hour or so and then headed back to the installation site. It took us some time to figure out how to hang each rectangle on the first row around the square grid. We took in to consideration the height from the floor of the first row as well as how clean the faces of the rectangles were. It was a process of flexibility for sure.
While up on the ladder, the engineer at Gateway came and asked how the grid was working out. He had built it for me and I was blown away at how perfect it was for the piece. It was definitely a God thing. Sarah and I recounted that no where were we concerned about that piece. God had it under control indeed. After chatting a bit, talking with a few friends that came by and processing the next rows, we slowly got the engine running. By noon, we were in full installation mode and again I was not about to stop now that I was focused and in the groove. Sarah and Chris took off for lunch and then came back to start laying out groups of 10 that would add up to 1000. As they approached 900 we couldn’t believe we had strung that many the night before and when all the counting was done, we only needed 58 more! It was amazing considering we still had a small box full of rectangles. So Sarah and Chris made quick work of the rectangles and then Sarah climbed up the ladder to help me finish out the piece. By 4 pm we had placed the final rectangle and were off the ladder staring at the installation overwhelmed and in awe.
In moments like these, I have a loss for words. I marvel that the idea in my brain that God so unique put there and the combination of the work of these human hands could create something so breath takingly amazing! Maybe that sounds egotistical, but I don’t mean it to be. I really do stand in AWE and marvel that God would use me to create that. That object of beauty and meaning. A piece that will speak to the need for mentors.
A week later a friend of mine text me and told me the piece inspired her to become a mentor again once she was finished with her professional test / schooling. I was again amazed. It was doing what I had intended it to do.
I learned that I need people around me in this project. I need their support and help. That Friday night at 1:30 am I went to bed feeling LOVED like I have never felt before. All these people helping when they didn’t have to. All these people staying up late to help when they could’ve chosen otherwise. This, this is what I desire to bring to other artists and to see artists do for one another.
So where do Sarah and I go next? Only God knows, but I am praying for more opportunities and open doors and hope someday that people will value artists, not just as givers but also as tradesmen and women choosing to sponsor or support them in their artistic endeavors.
Where do I begin to talk about the process of creating “One Thousand?”
I guess I should start in the Winter 2017. This is when the marketing director of Gateway Mall and I sat down in her office and she explained a new initiative their corporate office had approved. It was to become Live 360, a community driven initiative to elevate the mall to a community space and not just a place to shop. It was an initiative that that began to play out a vision the General Manager had four to five years back. We had discussed it on many an occasion. It was the early part of the summer when Gateway gathered members of the community together to brainstorm what they could envision happening in the mall. During one of the meeting’s activities, an attendee commented on how many kids in Lincoln were on a waiting list for mentors. BOOM! An idea hit me and I began to explain that I could see an installation of that number placed in Gateway to help people visualize and experience just how many kids that meant. That began the process of “One Thousand.”
After the meeting, mall staff, with their corporate managers, sat down and identified projects that they wanted Live 360 to launch with. The installation piece was one of them, so I was contacted and sat down with staff again to discuss the idea further and what I needed to proceed. I said I needed to meet with the mentor organizations to learn about them and hear, from them, what they experience every day. Gateway arranged the meeting and in early July we met with Lighthouse, Team Mates, and Heartland Big Brothers, Big Sisters. I asked questions, listened, took notes, and walked away with the number 1000. One Thousand, it is the number of kids on waiting lists to be paired with a mentor through these organizations. I also learned that the highest need was for male mentors. With that information I left and let it soak in and roll around. I was headed out of town on a trip with my husband and decided to wait to have a final idea until I returned the end of July. But, in God’s perfect timing, I was given an idea to pursue before we left.
Then, I was approached by a young gal (Sarah Wanek) who I was working with at church on some murals. She asked me several questions, all of which I flipped over as God had me praying about and opening doors for those very things. One I was praying for had to do with a desire to have one or more apprentices. So, we met, and I pitched my idea for the installation and she was one board! I was excited!
After returning from my trip and getting my feet back under me, I met with Gateway again and we were a go. They even provided money for supplies! I began playing around with ways to make 1000 rectangles. I tried clay and realized that that would take me forever. In talking with Jason he suggested I have one of his employees cut them out of sheets of plywood at Innovation Campus. GREAT idea! Plywood would be to heavy, but I remembered I learned about a great material called Komatex in the spring (light weight and paintable) so I pursued that route and worked with a local plastics dealer to get what I needed. It took a little bit of time, but we got the material to Rusty to cut and over a week he had all 1000 pieces to me ready to paint. I started sanding the first pieces exactly one week before installation and on Monday Sarah joined me and we began working tirelessly to prepare the pieces. By Wednesday afternoon we had all but 300 pieces cut, sanded and painted. A few issues came up on Wednesday late and so Thursday was spent making corrections and finally Friday morning all pieces were ready to be strung for the installation the next day.
But something on Friday kept postponing my work on the project and finally around 2:30 I got in a groove and started stringing the rectangles. Then 3:30 rolled around and I stopped work to get my son from school. Getting going was a struggle earlier in the day, but by 4:30 pm I had a plan and I started working hard. Sarah joined me around 5 pm and she jumped in working on some rectangles. Somewhere in there I got dinner ready for everyone and people ate as they wanted. I wasn’t about to stop to eat – I was focused and we were going to get this done.
Jason showed up at home around 5:00/5:30 with 1000 paperclips that we needed for hooks. He jumped in and started prepping the “hooks.” Then Christopher jumped in to help. As the boys headed off to bed, just Jason, Sarah and I kept working. Then Sarah suggested she call her sister to come help around 10:30 pm. Shortly thereafter, Jena came, was briefed and she began working. Oh the fun of listening to Jena and Sarah as they unpacked Disney movies. Reminded me of my sister and I. We worked feverishly stopping only briefly for ice cream and popcorn. By 1:00 pm we were tired and still had a half box left. Jason and I sent everyone home to rest and by 1:30 pm I flopped down in bed and was OUT!
Ann has worked as a professional artist since 2006. She currently works on her own studio artwork as well as large, commercial works and with other artists in any way she can.