15 Jun
Fri / 2018

Inside the MFAH
Creating “Big Bambú”: An interview with rock climber Katherine Tong

Creating a one-of-a-kind structure using some 3,000 bamboo poles is a monumental undertaking. But the group that constructed our summer installation, Mike + Doug Starn: Big Bambú, was up to the task—with some help from a few Houston-area rock climbers.

In the past weeks, Museum visitors have likely seen Big Bambú  taking shape in the Law Building’s massive Cullinan Hall. Now that the exhibition is open, visitors can walk from the second floor through a pathway inside the sea of bamboo down to the ground level, which is also available for you to explore.

A group of New York–based installers, who have worked on other Big Bambú projects with the Starn brothers, teamed up with the Houston-based crew that includes four women from a local rock-climbing club. I chatted with one of the rock climbers, Katherine Tong, about creating a unique work of art in her hometown.

What has been the process for installing this work of art?
The Starn brothers provided us with a blueprint, a model, and an overall vision—with guidance throughout. But what’s really neat is that they gave us a lot of creative freedom, which was fun.  We worked with the artists’ installers, who are experienced with creating Big Bambú projects. They gave us their perspectives on how they’ve done this around the world. It may have looked like chaos while we were working on it, but the poles have deliberate thought and purpose to them. It really is carefully and meticulously crafted—with love!

Usually museum installations are created by staff from the preparations department, but Big Bambú is very different! Why do you think the project required the help of rock climbers?
To move around and create such a large bamboo structure, you have to be able to balance in strange positions. You need good communication with the people you’re working with, which is a big part of rock climbing.

What was your favorite part of the process?
I was so excited when the Starn brothers’ staff reached out to our rock-climbing club. I’ve been coming to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, since I was a kid. I used to visit pretty much every Thursday to bring my grandma, and I’m a member now, too! I’ve seen such cool installations in this space, like Kusama and Pipilotti Rist, and the chance to be a part of something here is very special. To me, the most fun thing in a museum is something that’s interactive—that’s why I loved Soto’s Houston Penetrable!

What do you think people feel when they experience Big Bambú?
I hope it’s a sense of peace and joy, and wonder and playfulness, as they get to join us and play in our playground!

“Mike + Doug Starn: Big Bambú” is on view in the Law Building through September 3! Read the visitor guidelines and get tickets.


Comments

Recent Posts

Post Archives

Tag Cloud

35mm 5womenartists abstract african-art a-history-of-photography american american-art ancient and angelica-kauffmann animals anna-atkins antiquities architecture art art-books art-of-the-islamic-worlds arts-of-india azaleas bayou bayou-bend bayou-bend-christmas-village bend bestowing-beauty biblical british british-arrows british-art broadways-amazing-mastersons buffalo-bayou-park-cistern campus campus-redevelopment carroll-sterling-masterson chef chinese-art christmas christmas-fun cinema cisternrain classic classic-films color colors-of-the-oasis concrete conservation contemporary-art contemporary-arts-museum-houston contemporary-film contesting-modernity countess cullen-sculpture-garden curator curators-picks dance decorative-arts degas degas-a-new-vision digital dont-blink-robert-frank drawings dutch-art electronic elizabeth-i england e-records eye-on-houston family-programs fashion fashion-fusion festival fiber-arts field film flowers french french-art fun future futuremfah gainsborough gallery-interpretation garden garden-paradise gardens george-iii glassell glassell-school-of-art google-art-project habsburg-splendor-masterpieces-from-viennas-imperial-collections halloween happy-new-year harris-masterson-iii henry-viii hirsch-library history holiday holiday-fun hollywood homemfah homeso-different-so-appealing houston howe icaa ikat ima-hogg impressionism indian-art interactive ipads japanese-art joshua-reynolds kenwood king kodak latin latin-american-art latino-art latin-wave laura-israel learning-and-interpretation love mail maria-fernanda-cardoso mastersons mayan-art media mending-craft-and-community mexican-film mexican-modernism mfa-cafe mfah mfah-films mfah-in-the-community mfah-staff modern modernism movie movies movies-houstonians-love mueck mueckmfah museum museum-education music native-american-art new nhprc now-on-view now-playing organic oscar-de-la-renta painting paint-the-revolution paul-thomas-anderson peacock-in-the-desert-the-royal-arts-of-jodhpur-india peacockmfah persian-art photographs photography picasso portrait portraits prints prints-and-drawings programs queen-victoria rebel-jester-mystic-poet rembrandt-van-rijn rienzi ron-mueck rothko sampler sculpted-in-steel sculpture shadow-monsters shepherds short-films snail snapshot spanish-art spring summer technology texas textiles thanksgiving the the-al-sabah-collection the-glamour-and-romance-of-oscar-de-la-renta tudors-to-windsors valentines-day venezuelan-art video vincent-van-gogh vincent-van-gogh-his-life-in-art wagner-garden-carpet watercolor winter women-filmmakers womens-history-month works-on-paper