I'm on a rooftop watching Spica Stolfus read poetry. He's dressed in fluorescent paint and bathed in a black light's cool, blue hue. There's a huge dayglow mural behind him. Roughly 25 other people congregate at this "do-it-yourself" venue, not unusual for a Stolfus art event.
Stolfus's work has toured backyards, empty lots and basements. That's not because the artist can't get into galleries; he's been shown at OpticalReverb venues and the Smokebrush Gallery, among others. But there's not always space and time for Stolfus' prolific productions at tightly scheduled galleries. His next installation, "Orrorin III," will be in his sister's backyard.
"Orrorin III" will be his second maze installation. "Orrorin I" was at Apogaea, Colorado's regional Burning Man Festival.
For "Orrorin I," Stolfus wound 5-foot-tall pallet wrap through trees in the shape of a rough spiral, 100 feet in diameter. The passageway of the labyrinth narrowed and widened depending on the space between the trees. Strobe lights circumvented the spiral; the plastic appeared to pulsate in the wind.
"Orrorin III" in essence will be a recreation of the Apogaea labyrinth, only in a slightly smaller version about 70 feet in diameter. Also, Eight Track Mafia, a local electronic band, will perform to accompany the installation. Instead of trees, Stolfus will plant posts throughout the space to anchor the pallet wrap.
The second "Orrorin" incarnation, a series of pyramids surrounding a 4-foot-tall Christmas tree made of thin strips of wood, was still under construction in Stolfus' own backyard at the time of our interview. He detailed the symbolism of labyrinths while maneuvering his 7-foot body around the tree, wiring lights to give me the full effect. Electronic music streamed out of his kitchen window and, for a moment, I was at my very own rave.
Stolfus says that labyrinth-shaped petroglyphs marked the passage of the sun in ancient civilizations as exemplified in locales from New Mexico to Scotland and Egypt. The center of the labyrinth also symbolizes a calm, transcendent center for some religions and a spiritual showdown in the underworld for others. For example, a disk that once lay at the center of the labyrinth at the cathedral in Chartres, France, depicted Christ defeating the devil.
Ultimately, Stolfus says, participants know they're headed toward the dark core of their psyche. At Apogaea, some people headed to the center comfortably while others got lost or felt trapped.
The 32-year-old chose the name Orrorin because it also signifies a psychological core. Orrorin means "dawn man" in Kenyan and refers to humanoid remains that date back roughly 6 million years.
The artist hopes that by evening's end at "Orrorin III," participants will have shed some of their egos, encountering their primordial center.
"We can choose to continue with our war-like nature," he says, "or we can choose to become custodians of the planet."
"ORRORIN III": A Spica Stolfus installation accompanied by Eight Track Mafia
15 N. 28th St.
Friday, July 27, 9 p.m.
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