Red Hook Artist Grows Sculpture 'Organism' on Bergen Street

By Nikhita Venugopal on October 3, 2013 9:48am 

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 Artist L. Nichols will be the new WindowShop Resident at the Beam Center.
L. Nichols at the Beam Center
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COBBLE HILL — There’s an “organism” growing on Bergen Street.

Using bottles, lights, wires and a host of other objects, Red Hook artist L. Nichols is building an interactive sculpture at the Beam Center as the nonprofit learning organization’s newest window-shop resident.

Nichols, 30, who goes by “L,” will spend the next three months creating “Spawn,” the growing sculpture, which she calls a “symbiotic organism,” in a small room facing the center’s 47 Bergen St. window-front, where passersby can watch her work.

Beginning at a corner of the ceiling, the sculpture will grow throughout the room in a wiry web. The artist hopes to add LED lights, fans and tendrils that can be controlled remotely.

“I want it to be as big as it can be,” said Nichols.

Between her own collection and unique items she finds, Nichols has a range of usable material, but she also hopes the community will donate interesting trinkets that can be added to “Spawn.”

Nichols is looking for “things that catch your eye that you don’t want to keep but don’t want to throw away,” she said.

Before moving to New York in 2007, Nichols graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and later, with a master’s degree from the MIT Media Lab.

But even during her academic career, she was drawn to artistic projects, even building a “kinetic sculpture” for her undergraduate thesis.

“Mostly people are surprised that I have an engineering degree,” said Nichols, who now lives in Red Hook and works as a graphic designer for a Manhattan restaurant.

Nichols will also teach a weekly workshop on packaging design for students at the Beam Center this fall.

The sculpture’s theme is “memories of summer,” said Nichols, who even added artificial grass to the space for a summertime feel.

Summer is a time for “building and exploring” and Nichols wanted to “figure out how to make something with those memories,” she said.

After three months, Nichols will stem the growth of “Spawn,” but the sculpture could still evolve.

“Take it apart,” said Nichols of her future plans for the sculpture. “Turn it into something else.”

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