AquAIRium recap

Those of you that have been following us for a while will recall that we planned to octopi RIT a few weeks ago. This was our second year participating in the Rochester Institute of Technology's Innovation and Creativity Festival, Imagine RIT. Hundreds of student projects were on display across campus, and we were thrilled to support their efforts.

The AquAIRium used cutting-edge technology and our art to immerse visitors in an interactive underwater oasis. Students, guest artists, and community members built this balloon extravaganza all week in the Innovation Center.


Video by Kirsten Nedrud and Eric Irish

You can read the official description of the project to get the full picture of what was done. But what's a blog for, if not to tell you the rest of what happened behind the scenes? As with all of my community projects, I sent out invitations for others to take part. I always go into these things with a plan in my head, but I try to let the ideas of others take over. That takes thinking on my feet, always ready to change directions and going with the flow.

This time, however, I got sick a couple days into the project. Since I had expected to go with others' plans, I had very few of my own plans laid out in a form that I could turn over to anyone. I just assumed I would always be on site to work with whatever things were thrown out there. Over the last few years, as Kelly and I have worked together, we've learned to step in and do each other's jobs when needed. Kelly taking over for me would have worked well, except that she also got incredibly sick shortly after I did.

We had an amazing crew. Phil Cosmos, who only joined our team a year ago and has since been part of a few projects, was able to do some very large pieces on his own. With only a little guidance at the beginning, he was able to build the yellow submarine and surrounding pieces by himself. Walt Crum is always more than happy to pick up whatever task is needed. He made the shark that became a key element in one of the games played in the AquAIRium.

The one part of the installation I intended to do myself was the four band members: John Lemonshark, Paul McCarpney, George Herringson, and Ringo Starfish. Jan Spagnola took over that role for me. A special thanks to Robbie Furman for taking over management of the community volunteers, making sure everyone that came to help was able to contribute in a productive manner. Sheryl Watts and Rich Hughson, two long time crew members also put in way more time than they had intended to make sure everything was completed on time.

In the end, we did successfully Octopi RIT. Underwater creatures filled the Innovation Center. An estimated 10,000 people walked through our AquAIRium.

A guest artist for First Friday


As always, those of you that will be in the Rochester area are invited to visit the studio this coming Friday from 6-9 PM. In addition to the usual stuff we have out for your enjoyment, we have a guest artist displaying his work. Scott Matyjaszek is a photographer that creates what he calls "photo- reliefs". These are hand cut and layered 3D "sculptures" made from 2D photos. The effect really has to be seen to appreciate.