When COVID arrived last March, the first thing Transformit thought of was how will all of the restaurants in Portland survive without the space needed for safe social distancing. Rolling walls seemed like a good idea to augment the actual distance with a fabric barrier.
Look through a microscope at a slide of cells and behold the tiny, almost innumerable micro-organisms bumping around together in a soup of life. Now imagine yourself in the midst of those cells, in that world under the microscope, shrunk down to cellular size, walking around in a seemingly infinite landscape of cellular structures. This is the experience you can have in the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History’s new exhibit, Under the Microscope.
The sculptural luminary pictured in the photo is This Little Light of Mine, the signature piece at the center of the newly opened Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. This Little Light of Mine is a big deal for Transformit.
We were hired to build and install This Little Light of Mine and it was an honor to contribute to this museum celebrating Mississippi's civil rights movement, a movement that changed the nation. Plus, this project, with its artistic intent, myriad of technical integrations within a fabric structure, and design and installation challenges, was an exceptionally good creative fit for our company.
Several years ago we did a really fun project with the Newport Aquarium in Newport, Kentucky. They were renovating the viewing theater for their giant shark-tank, Shark Ray Bay, and invited Transformit to create a fabric surround to frame the large acryllic window into the tank. I like to think our designers were channelling their inner Neptune when they framed the tank window with a dynamic "splash."
When the aquarium was designing their latest exhibit, Stingray Hideaway, they wanted an overhead shade structure that tied in thematically to the exhibit. We were delighted when the Newport Aquarium called us to work with them again and collaborate on their idea. For Stingray Hideaway we created a custom fabric sculpture of sixteen Cownose Rays swimming in a school overhead. Each ray measures six feet long by eight feet wide and one foot tall, the completed piece is 34’ long by 29’ wide by 10’ high and its installation overhead rises from 15’ to 25’ above the floor.
The Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) awarded Transformit a 2016 Outstanding Achievement award for a giant H. polylepis.
The explanation starts with Zeb. The passion of Zeb Hogan, host of National Geographic Live’s Monster Fish television series, has inspired a traveling exhibition, Monster Fish: In Search of the Last River Giants. While most of the exhibition’s fish are sculpted in traditional materials such as plaster, clay or fiberglass, a giant freshwater stingray (Himantura polylepis) was specified as a lightweight tension fabric sculpture, because of its sheer size (8′ x 15′) and the need to suspend it overhead.
In May of 2008, a new museum about Woodstock and the Sixties opened in Bethel, NY on the site of the 1969 Woodstock festival. Designed by Gallagher & Associates, the museum features artifacts, interactive displays and never-before-seen film footage. The New York Times called it "... a tie-dyed time machine that puts those iconic three days of peace, love and music into historical context."
photo courtesy The Museum at Bethel Woods