Project overview: Create a piece that displays historical, personal, public, and fictional characteristics of the 5 Beekman street.
A little background of the building:
5 Beekman Street is breathtakingly unique from an architectural standpoint because of its intricate glass ceiling. 5 Beekman Street has had a long history, with many different tenants and stories to accompany them. At its opening in the 1880s, it housed a theatrical opening that premiered Hamlet for Americans. The NRA also became one of the initial tenants of the building. Afterward part of the building went down in flames after a fire started in the typewriting office. In 1911 a nineteen-year-old waiter jumped out of the ninth floor after being fired. The building became filled with small businesses from the 1940s to until 200o when the building was abandoned. Such glamorous and obscure site attracted many photographers to the building including a 2010 magazine cover shoot for harper’s bazaar. Then two years later Maison Margiela hosted a Great Gatsby themed party because of the striking resemblance of the buildings interior to the film.
When I ventured into the building for the first time I immediately felt as if I had stepped into an alternate reality. When I spoke to guests and staff it seemed that I was not the only one that felt that way. Many people related the hotel to movies or time periods saying,” it felt like I had gone back in time to 1920s luxury” or some said “I feel like I’m in a Wes Anderson movie” or even “The hotel sometimes reminds me of the one in the shinning”. Staff had even told me that the hotel gets a lot of foot traffic from people who want to feel like they were at the great Gatsby parties.
Because of the building’s rich incredibly rich history, I felt inclined to tell its story. The building’s glass ceiling was so extraordinary it left me dumbfounded. I had such a strong feeling of this alternate 1920s great gatsby world while in the hotel that it was difficult for me to separate film and reality. So to tell the story of the hotel’s past I decided to depict scenes from each of the tenants and events that happened at the hotel.
I wanted to pay homage to the ceiling that took my breath away and to do so I decided what if I depicted the hotel’s past by drawing with smoke and fire onto glass almost as if we were observers after the fire that happened in the building and if what was left of the building were these scenes of the hotels past burned into the glass ceiling.
I started this project by choosing images that represented the most intriguing and paramount stories of the hotel. Then I used a sharpie to sketch these images onto the glass. After that, I used tape as a sort of “stencil” to create the scenes I had just drawn. I cut thin lines of tape in order to create a layer that covered parts of the glass. Then I used a candle to create smoke that covered the glass. The longer I left the flame on a certain area the darker the smoke got and by doing this is was able to vary tones with the smoke. I also experimented and found that the way I moved the glass over the flame I was able to create different patterns with the smoke and by doing so some of the scenes were able to look almost dreamlike. Then I took off the tape and cleaned parts of the glass and if some parts were not clear or the way I wanted I went back and re-did the process. Then I took a clean sheet of glass and superglued the sheet to the side of the glass that I had burned so that when displayed, people would be able to touch both sides of the glass without wiping off or destroying the smoke. I then took a clear superglue and superglued the sides of the glass as it is very sharp and I don’t want the piece to cut viewers. I also joined the pieces together by connecting them with gold door hinges that move so when all closed together the piece folds to mimic a book but unfolds to create a timeline spreading each sheet of glass out so that it can be seen.
Critique: My Critique was generally very quiet and I was unsure how people were responding to the piece. I noticed that people were picking on the general ideas of the piece and the majority of questions were around what material I used to create the piece.
First tests and failures:
the beginning of taping
after I burned the glass
after some burning and removal of the tape
after more taping, burning and attempts of shading
both sides after I completed burning, you can see that I did a poor job of taping because the lines look jagged and I also got lots of candle way onto the glass which I would have to clean up and start over but with this trial run I learned that the idea I had to use smoke to paint onto glass was possible with a candle as I has tried many other forms that didn’t leave any marks. I also started learning how to try and control the smoke and the different values of the smoke.
I decided that something with more structure would perhaps be easier as it could all be one tone and the tape would be able to create a nice picture.
after lots more taping
After burning and the removal of some of the tape. I decided that the lines looked jagged and I did not like the way the image turned out so I chose not to include it in the final piece.
Here is another attempt I didn’t include in the final piece-
Here are some process images of the pieces that I chose to include in the final piece-
The final pieces
The stories of 5 Beekman street-
The 1911 suicide-
The NRA tenants-
The Great Gatsby-