Transformit's founder and president Cindy Thompson won a 2014 public art commission from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts to build her tension-fabric installation, Aqua Vibrant. Designed to occupy the overhead space of the Academic Commons at Lakes Region Community College, an 85-foot long room connecting two classroom buildings, the piece celebrates and takes inspiration from nearby Lake Winnipesaukee and New Hampshire’s Lakes Region. Aqua Vibrant was installed this past summer in time for the 2016-2017 school year.
Cindy's initial submission to the arts commission consisted of a sketch and a project description: “I propose a ceiling/wall fabric sculpture portraying the essence of water. The college being in the heart of the Lakes Region, water comes to mind as a vital force in the community. The sculpture captures the wild rivers and streams of the Lakes Region. It will undulate across the ceiling above the beams, from the windows to the doorway, and down the wall above the door. My intent is to trigger the energy and vibrancy of the community college with this abstract river that I call "Aqua Vibrant". It is placed in the Academic Commons to inspire students to great achievements in their own communities, whether the Lakes Region or the world.”
Cindy has installed sculptures in many public spaces world-wide and has a considerable knowledge of installation and engineering. In addition to its location-based artistic expression, she designed Aqua Vibrant to meet the practical parameters of a commercial installation in a public assembly space. The fabric is durable and fire-retardant to meet architectural standards. The framework is aluminum with custom machined joinery. All materials are very light weight and come from recycled (and recyclable) materials. Regular maintenance is easy, by blowing dust off the sculpture. It is washable, and if vandalized, the design and the pattern are preserved in order to fabricate a replacement.
“My art is all about transforming spaces into humane experiences through the medium of fabric,” Thompson added. “Fabric dampens sound, and its curves remind of natural forms. I seek to create environments of tranquility and well-being: light and airy, quiet and secure." — Cindy Thompson
The commission invited Cindy to submit a scale model, which clinched the award.
While contemplating how to build the piece she imagined, Cindy realized that if the fabric were to be printed, she would be limited to fabric ten feet wide, and visible seams would be required. This was not what she had in mind, so she searched for a 15’ wide mesh fabric, and a way to paint it by hand.
Cindy's fabric search led her to ShowTex, in Belgium, a maker of theatrical fabrics. The owners of ShowTex were kind enough to subsidize the purchase of fabric for this public art installation.
Her search for how and where to paint Aqua Vibrant led to Mystic Scenic Studios, in Norwood, MA, and to their head scenic painter, Rebecca Warde. Rebecca patiently spent an entire week discussing the project with Cindy, choosing the correct paint, lofting her scale drawing up to full size, and painting the fabric under Cindy's direction. Cindy is sure that the piece is much more vibrant, having been painted by hand, than any digital print could be.
Transformit’s team of designers, machinists and stitchers fabricated the custom framework and sewed the binding and pole pockets on the painted fabric, creating a single continuous 85’ by 15’ fabric sculpture that enlivens the long hallway and lounge area below.