Wake-ing to a New Reality

Erika Diamond installing a mask on Wake.

Just because you have a mask on doesn’t mean you can’t sing. Renowned but elusive installation artist Mel Chin, who lives near Burnsville, debuted his outsized animatronic sculpture Wake in Times Square last summer, and earlier this year, the evocative 3D portrait of Swedish opera singer Jenny Lind — shown emerging from the wrecked hull of a ship — was moved to 44 Collier Avenue in Asheville, where it will remain until September 7.

The piece is 60 feet long, 34 feet wide, and 24 feet high, and was fabricated with a team of UNCA art students, faculty, and staff. Lind’s bigger-than-life mask was added in May, thanks to more local effort: It’s the work of textile artist Erika Diamond, UNCA Steam Studio Director Sara Sanders, and Special Projects Technician Chas Llewellen. Wake is based on a Lind figurehead that once graced the USS Nightingale. “She may be looking at what cannot be seen as she moves away from the wreckage of her past,” Chin noted in a press statement. It’s a fitting-enough metaphor for the sea changes of 2020.

For more information, see melchin.org

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