Levine Scholar-in-Residence Evan Danchenka sits down with our Communications Intern Katie Culclasure to answer questions about his residency experience and his first independent project involving public art, TransSound Plaza.
Can you elaborate on what it means to be a Levine Scholar-in-Residence at McColl Center for Visual Art?
The Levine Scholarship Program is a new merit based scholarship program at UNCC. Part of the scholarship has a “Summer Experience” each year. Three years ago I was fortunate enough to be part of the inaugural class, and the first summer experience was a hiking trip in Wyoming for 25 days where we worked on our leadership skills. Second summer was an internship with a non-profit group in Charlotte called Carolina Thread Trail for about a month. And this summer is the 3rd summer experience in which we are supposed to leave Charlotte and do an independent study in another city outside of the state. I decided to tap into an interesting part of the scholarship called the Service Grant, which we are allowed to use any time in our four years as a scholar. The Service Grant is pretty much a pot of money set aside for each scholar to design their own project which engages the community and has a lot of pre-professional development attached to it. So for me that means using my background in architecture and music. I brought my ideas to McColl Center for Visual Art and was offered this space, so now I am here working with the Levine Scholar’s Grant while fulfilling my internship.
Tell me about your role as a artist. I know you are focusing on mass public transit and how the public identifies their sense of place. Can you elaborate on the prototype installation you are creating?
This is really my first independent project involving public art. I’m calling it TransSound Plaza, which is a compilation and multi-media experience mainly directed towards musique concrète, meaning that I’ve recorded concrete sounds of the transit system. I’ve gone to 6 different cities; Washington, New York, Boston, Chicago, Pittsburg and San Francisco, where I have recorded on their transit lines. There is a lot of musical interplay there, with the pitches, tones, rhythms and some of the melodies of the trains squeaking on the rails. There are a lot of human elements in there too, and I’m showcasing it; making a real experience accompanied with film on these transit lines. When the public experiences it they will get a better sense of their environment around them.
You’ve mentioned music, and I know you have recorded music before, so would you consider it as an influence in your artwork?
For this project, music has turned to the sole focal point that everything works around. I’m developing everything musically. It’s all sound related with film that will accompany it. It’s all derived from music. Sound will be everywhere; it’s omnipresent. Speakers will be positioned everywhere, with a wall of film coming from three projectors sculpturally set up as mannequins with wires, holding the projectors up, as a metaphor to how wired we are.
Can you give us an idea of when Trans Sound Plaza will be complete, where it can be viewed, and what you have planned for the closing reception?
I want the project to be fulfilled by July 27th. Here, for the closing ceremony, those few hours of being able to turn this place into an exhibit will really show off this whole project, where I document it, talk about it and let people into this idea because it’s all in my head. It will be very accessible. I really think everyone can get it. I think anybody will be able to understand, to approach and have an opinion or reaction to the piece. Once I document what this exhibit looks like I can then set it up on campus, but I’m hoping it can be in some other places in Charlotte too.
Can you give us an idea your plans after you leave your residency?
I will be abroad starting out in Scandinavia who knows after that. That summer is the most freely structured, in that it is tied mostly to career development. If this project lives longer, when I go abroad, I can do more of the exact same thing, or I may return to architectural studies.
Do you keep a blog where the public can get a closer look at your work?
Yes, I have been documenting this whole process. It’s just a fun outlet with a lot of photographs from my trips.