COUNTDOWN TO MEMORY #1: Ground Rush It's finally here

This is the final post in an 18-post countdown to MEMORY, Amy Stacey Curtis’ final solo biennial in Maine in September/October 2016. After MEMORY, she will have completed nine solo biennials over 18 years, with 81 massive interactive works installed in mill spaces. Read the Countdown to Memory series here. Please continue to follow Amy’s post-MEMORY process at www.theartistplan.com.


I was 30 years old in July 2000, when my first solo biennial of interactive installation opened for participation in Lewiston, Maine’s Bates Mill.

I remember thinking, I can’t believe it’s finally here, when the doors opened after two years of labor making its nine large-scale works.

The installation and mill clean for this first of nine solo biennials through 2016, would be much more condensed, 2.5 weeks as opposed to the 9+ weeks I would soon learn I should use from then on.

Two and a half weeks just wasn’t time to do all I wanted to do, but it had been enough.

I had worked 18 hours each day (I could do that back when I was 30), my husband Bill had worked every weekend and at least 6 hours every weekday after doing his own job, plus lots of friends and family had volunteered.

It also had helped that I didn’t scrub; I had only swept.

My final exhibit was already here, I was here in my last mill space, it was time, and I didn’t want it to be. I didn’t want my 18 years to be over.

At the start of the 2.5 weeks in my first Maine mill, time was already rushing forward as I began installing my works, things with elements I’d prepared for 20 months.

Then, as the opening approached, the hours and minutes moved faster and faster as if I was falling from way above the earth, and the ground rushing toward me was the doors to my exhibit.

I was excited and scared to open these doors to an audience about to experience and activate what I had just laid upon this mill floor with all I had, excited and scared to open the doors to their eyes and hands.

But I did.

And all was fine.

I remember thinking, I will be 46 when I mount my 9th solo biennial of interactive installation. 

And, I can’t believe it’s finally here.

The year 2016 seemed so far away then. And now, it seems like 2000 wasn’t that long ago.

Although I had 11 weeks to install my 9th and final solo biennial, the ground began rushing up to meet me as soon as I started scrubbing the mill floor.

For me, my final exhibit was already here, I was here in my last mill space, it was time, and I didn’t want it to be. I didn’t want my 18 years to be over.

But, as I worked over the course of the 11 weeks (Bill working every weekend and some weekdays, some of the same friends and family volunteering along with several new friends), time slowed to a steady pace.

I had settled as much as I could into my work, trying to love and be with each scrub, carry, and placement of object, so that when it was time to hit the ground, and open the doors, I’d no longer be thinking about what could go wrong, and lasts, and finals.

I’d only be thinking about the hellos and thankyous and hugs from all the people helping me make this big work I’ve wanted to make these 18 years.

I wouldn’t be falling from the sky, but standing with my feet firm upon the floor I had cleaned with all I had.

I wish you, reader, were here with me too.

Please continue to follow my process as I move beyond my 18-year project at www.theartistplan.com.
Support Pyragraph

About Amy Stacey Curtis

In 1998, artist and writer Amy Stacey Curtis began an 18-year commitment to interactive installation art, nine solo-biennial exhibits from 2000 to 2016. In the end, Amy will have installed 81 large-in-scope, participatory works in the vast mills of eight or nine Maine towns. Each solo-biennial exhibit is a 22-month process, each exhibit exploring a different theme while requiring her audience to perpetuate its nine unique installations. As part of each biennial process, Amy scrubs by hand its respective mill; the spaces averaging 25,000 square feet.

The Maine Arts Commission’s 2005 Individual Artist Fellow for Visual Art, and recipient of numerous grants including those from the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Amy committed to this ambitious and ephemeral project to convey that everyone and everything affects everyone and everything, no matter how small or fleeting the impact. MEMORY, Amy’s last solo biennial, will be open for participation September 17-October 28, 2016 in a Maine mill to be announced. MEMORY will be worth the trip from wherever you are.

Amy (and the thousands of objects she stores to mount her massive exhibits) lives with her husband Bill in Lyman, Maine.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.