With the Great American Eclipse just days away, Americans are preparing in different ways for the historic celestial event. Some who live in the path of totality are rushing to buy specialized viewing glasses, while others located outside of the eclipse’s direct path are planning to livestream the event online. In Jackson Hole, Wyoming—one of the towns that will experience the eclipse in full—a group of artists and arts professionals are organizing what they’re calling the first “Eclipse-ennial,” a site-specific, outdoor exhibition featuring ten art projects created in response to Monday’s big event.
The group—artists Matthew Day Jackson and Andy Kincaid, and dealer Camille Obering—have invited select artists to create projects inspired by the eclipse and the region of the American West that Jackson Hole resides within, as part of the city’s inaugural Center for the Art’s Creatives in Residence Project. Artworks by Glenn Kaino, Liz Magic Laser, Paul McCarthy and Eduardo Navarro, among others, have been slowly rolling out in the lead up to Monday’s eclipse, and will be on view at through the summer.
Kincaid explains that the show, titled “Observatories,” has been set up in a deliberate order that mimics the three celestial bodies whose orbit will create Monday’s phenomenon: “The show is aesthetically set up to be ‘Sun-Moon-Earth-Sun Moon-Earth’ as you move through space.”
Projects such as Eduardo Navarro’s We Who Spin Around You are fully interactive, and meant to be used before, during and even after the eclipse. Navarro has created a series of masks for visitors to borrow, which Day tells me are similar to those worn for welding and give the wearer the ability to look directly at the sun—just not for too long he warns. There is also an 800-number as part of the work (1-866-WYECLIPSE) that anyone call, and those who do will be greeted with a timely, and personal, message: Day’s grandfather has been recorded reading poet Sarah Teesdale’s refrains from There Will Come Soft Rains, a meditation on nature, humanity and man-made apocalypse.
Elsewhere, artist Anna Tsouhlarakis has sourced the opinions of Native peoples on Monday’s eclipse, editing and shortening their thoughts into a series of signs posted inside a spiraling wood structure titled Edges of Ephemeral. And Glenn Kaino’s Hollow Earth, a shed-like structure for visitors to enter, will immerse people in darkness much like the eclipse will on Monday, in order to best experience the effect of a mirrored sculpture placed inside that creates the illusion of a well of light tunneling into the Earth.
“The natural events of Jackson Hole are so spectacular. The one thing we wanted to do was share these experiences with artists people outside of Jackson Hole,” says Obering. “It’s a great way to open up your mind and perspective in a different way.”
And since another eclipse isn’t due to cross North America until 2024, the group hopes that perhaps future generations might take up the mantle of making the “Eclipse-ennial” the next time around.