An experiment/sketch/draft, with before and after images:
The first photo is of the initial lay-out, before I filled in the frame with a layer of wax. There's a lot about this that I like without the added wax, and I think the next step is to suspend the peels on threads, so that they stay in this formation, with open negative space, when the frame stands up. But that's more technically complicated, and I had to get this other idea out of my head first. The shapes are grapefruit pith, dried in the oven and then saturated with beeswax. The wood frame is left over from another piece.
The second photo is after the wax solidified, with both front and back lighting.
The third photo is with just back lighting. I really like the effect, but I'm not sure yet how I'd show it. An incandescent light box big enough to illuminate - but not melt - the piece would have to be deeper than the frame is wide, with fans, and would just not fit with the delicacy of the pith. Maybe fluorescents would work, but I don't like their cooler color temperature as much for this, and I'd rather figure out how to hang the piece in mid-air, so that you could walk around it. The back is also very interesting - I'll have to take some photos.
I've been thinking around parts of this for several years, since we moved to Michigan in 2004. Maybe even earlier, because I was thinking about forms emerging out of a wax frame back when I did the wings piece in 2003, in Brooklyn, but I never had the time to explore it. Credit for this working (and I mean that as a noun, like a piece of work) goes to Elaine Wilson, my studio-mate, teaching-mentor and painter friend from Ann Arbor, who drew my attention to how the pieces of pith fit together, and the negative spaces they create. This whole exploration of objects - as opposed to room-filling installations - is still pretty new for me, so I'm kind of unsure of their actual worth. But it feels good to play with the ideas.