Taking the museum out for a walk

Visitors invited to help dismantle ASU's 'Fathomings' exhibit; exhibition one of a handful looking at walking from different angles

April 13, 2017

In 1988, longtime collaborators and partners Marina Abramovic and Ulay began walking toward one another from opposite ends of the Great Wall of China. Ninety days later, the performance artists met in the middle and then went their separate ways, severing their relationship with a series of steps.

Like Abramovic and Ulay, visual artists of all disciplines have been incorporating walking into both performative and non-performative art practices since the 1960s, if not before. Museum of Walking Annex at ASU Art Museum Photo by Lamp Left Media ASU Art Museum visitors explore "Museum of Walking Annex," an exhibition at ASU Art Museum that is part of projectWALK. Photo by Lamp Left Media Download Full Image

“Walking is a defining human activity,” explained ASU Art Museum curator and interim director Heather Sealy Lineberry. “Walking can be practical, moving the body from place to place; ceremonial, such as religious and secular processions; spiritual, a pilgrimage or hike through a wilderness; social, a stroll with a friend in a park; or political, positioning the body in and through a contested zone.”

Museum of Walking

ASU School of Art Professor Angela Ellsworth co-founded the Museum of Walking (MoW) inside her office in ASU’s Tower Center Building in 2014 with fellow artist and ASU School of Art alumnus Steve Yazzie to explore the intersections between walking and art.

Ellsworth has said the initial idea for a museum of walking came from a conversation she had with curator Bruce Ferguson years ago. (Ferguson curated the exhibition "Walking and Thinking and Walking" at the Louisiana Museum in Denmark in 1996.) But both Ellsworth and Yazzie always hoped MoW would have the ability to move from place to place.

“MoW travels light,” said Ellsworth. “MoW is a somewhat itinerant museum. We are not a collecting institution, so we can relocate easily and quickly.”

This semester, MoW did move to a new location — ASU Art Museum Project Space in downtown Phoenix — where Ellsworth’s intermedia class mounted their own version of Ferguson’s 1996 exhibition.

The whole thing seems a bit clandestine, but it’s all part of a bigger initiative spearheaded by MoW and ASU Art Museum this semester called projectWALK, a city-wide series of events, exhibitions and walks that aim to address the larger role of walking within art, literature, culture, history and place.


“Heather Lineberry and I had been wanting to work together, and MoW and the subject of walking created an excellent foundation for our collaboration,” Ellsworth said. “Professor Ron Broglio in the ASU Department of English was also a key collaborator in projectWALK. Ron’s interest in walking and sustainability in addition to the literary history of walking was immensely helpful in our project.”

“The project is also a part of the museum’s Spotlight series, looking at innovative research projects by faculty members across disciplines in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts,” Sealy Lineberry said. “The Museum of Walking and its goals align with our mission to gather artists, students and the public to explore new art forms, often process-based and performative, which deeply connect with human experience and daily life.”

In total, there are currently four exhibitions at ASU Art Museum that fall under the larger projectWALK series, in addition to the Museum of Walking show at ASU Art Museum Project Space.

“Some of the artists in the projectWALK season we have been watching for a long time, like Francis Alÿs, and looking for an opportunity to introduce his work to our students and audiences,” Sealy Lineberry said. “He is one of the best-known artists utilizing walking in his art practice, usually in contested zones and fraught environments, to explore social and political realities. Some of the artists and works in the season are new to us, like Hannah Barco, a young artist from Chicago who creates engaging installations based on ideas and experiences of moving the body through urban space.”

At first glance, “Hannah Barco: Fathomings” looks like a giant kitchen counter installed in the museum gallery. Upon closer inspection, the counter is also a sidewalk.

“The ‘Fathomings’ installation uses formal shifts of scale to re-create in some sense this dynamic between individual and environment that I experience while walking,” Barco said. “The kitchen counter serves as a bit of a substitute for the physical act of walking as an embodied practice, because I believe the kitchen counter is very explicit and familiar in how it choreographs our bodies.

“As a disruption in the space, it perhaps helps us become aware of our bodies in the gallery as we are forced to walk around it and default into postures and gestures that we might usually only do at our kitchen counters at home, but are suddenly drawn out of us in the gallery by this object. I’ve tried to make a work that gets at the core vitalities and tensions of walking (for me), despite being manifested as a static physical installation in an underground gallery.”

‘Voices other than my own’

As part of her piece at the museum, Barco invited community members to be a part of creating the work. She spoke with ASU scholars, who also helped to complete the physical installation; Grady Gammage Jr. helped her tile the counter. But she also hosted a larger chewing-gum party, where ASU students and community members literally placed chewed gum on her “sidewalk.”

“This part of the project came from a very simple impulse to expand the perspective that is being represented within the installation and include voices other than my own in this exploration of the position of the individual in the greater world,” Barco said.

“Museum of Walking Annex,” another exhibition at ASU Art Museum that is part of projectWALK, takes a more historic look at walking, using pieces from the museum’s collection, ranging from an Andy Warhol photograph to a double-sided Reginald Marsh painting. But the idea of ASU community members contributing to the work remains.

Last week, there was a brand-new element introduced into the gallery: “One Small Step” is an electroacoustic piece composed by School of Music student Adele Etheridge Woodson in direct response to the artwork in the exhibition.

“I spent about an hour in the ‘Museum of Walking Annex’ just looking at each piece of art,” Etheridge Woodson said. “I didn't write anything down, I just sat and took it all in. I visited it again a week later, where I wrote down some common themes and ideas that jumped out at me.”

Now, visitors can scan a QR code to get a direct link to this new piece of music while they view the art in the gallery. Etheridge Woodson said she hopes the sound will add another layer of depth to the exhibition.

“The piece was intended to be listened to while in the gallery, so my hope is that the listener will be able to comprehend the themes not only visually but audibly,” Etheridge Woodson said. “It is as if the pieces of art and my music are playing a duet — they complement each other, playing differently, but still coming back to the same themes. And overall, creating a whole piece of work that I hope will inspire the listener, spark their curiosity and leave them thinking about the installation even after they leave the museum.”

‘Out into the world’

For the final act of “Hannah Barco: Fathomings,” the artist is returning to ASU Art Museum to physically dismantle the exhibition, and she’s asking the public to walk with her carrying pieces of the rubble.

“If the ‘Fathomings’ project was in its most basic sense a collection of different perspectives collected as a unified installation of materials, then the next step is to take those perspectives out into the world — and use my walking practice to further test them out,” Barco said.

Viewing artwork about walking is one thing, but Barco’s final performance, “Sounding Line: An Urban Walk,” will give visitors the chance to take part in a form of walking art themselves.

“I do feel connected to an amazing line up of walking artists, from the surrealists to the minimalists, from activists and street performers to the conceptual artists,” Barco said. “I’ve never affiliated myself with a particular brand of walking art, I’m always more interested in how a process that you engage through time, in this case walking, can have bundled into it all of these different histories. And as each step draws the body forward in repetition, there is the opportunity for the meanings to emerge — a stroll becomes a pilgrimage with glints of a parade, a picket line and a second line all embedded possibilities within the act of walking.”

Visit ASU Art Museum’s exhibitions page or events page for more information on projectWALK and its related programming. Hannah Barco’s “Sounding Line: An Urban Walk” will take place from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday, April 15. Visitors are invited to meet at the ASU Art Museum to help physically carry pieces of the exhibition out of the gallery and into the world. Participants will depart for the walk at dusk and conclude by sunset.

Communications Program Coordinator, ASU Art Museum


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On a symbolic day, future nurses connect with homeless patients

April 13, 2017

ASU students run foot-care clinic on Maundy Thursday at Tempe church

A group of Arizona State University nursing students participated in a foot-care clinic for homeless people in Tempe on Thursday, gathering at Community Christian Church, just south of the campus, and setting up stations where they could wash, dry and tend to the feet of their clients, who were lined up by 7 a.m.

“This is part of the community aspect of nursing — outreach for the vulnerable populations,” according to Mara Scaramella, a clinical instructor in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation at ASU.

The 14 ASU seniors all are in a community health class and have spent the semester working with people at Central Arizona Shelter Services; U.S. VETS, which provides services for veterans; and the Collaboratory on Central, a complex for poor, elderly and disabled people in downtown Phoenix. The foot-care clinic coincided with Maundy Thursday, which commemorates the day Christians believe Jesus washed the feet of his disciples in an act of humility.

“A lot of times the homeless are faceless, the people on the corner. But they’re just like, us and they have hopes and dreams and needs,” Scaramella said.

Foot care is important for homeless people because they walk so much.

“Many times their feet are damaged from wearing the wrong-sized shoes, not changing their socks or walking around with wet shoes, and we find it important on this symbolic day to take care of their feet,” Scaramella said.

ASU nursing student Samantha Amundsen said her training prepared her for this kind of outreach.

“Everything we do is learning how to connect with patients from all demographics and all walks of life. It’s rewarding for us because we get to connect with people we don’t usually get to connect with and learn about their stories while we’re seeing them,” she said.

After washing, the future nurses trimmed toenails, filed away callouses and dabbed ointment on sores.

Sue Ringler started the program several years ago when she was the instructor for the community health course at ASU. She also is a pastor and noted that many churches — and even the pope — perform symbolic foot washings on Holy Thursday, the Thursday before Easter, which commemorates the Last Supper.

“I thought we should be washing feet that needed to be washed, not just symbolically,” said Ringler, who is pastor of Guardian Angels Catholic Community, which meets at Community Christian Church. The two congregations do service projects together.

“So it became a tradition to do this in a very real way. I still have students who contact me and tell me this was their favorite experience — having an opportunity to sit with folks and chat with them about their life.

“This kind of care is very intimate, but it gets them ready for that intimacy they’re going to have during their career.”

The church members and sporting-goods retailer REI donated nearly 150 pairs of shoes and 500 pairs of socks. After the foot care, every client got new shoes and socks and then had a hot breakfast.

Ringler said she sends fliers about the clinic to groups that work with homeless people. That’s how James Haller found out about it.

“My mom told me I needed to get my feet taken care of,” said Haller, who injured his foot several years ago. “With the steel plate in my foot, I have to make sure they’re comfortable.”

Nursing student David Vargas dried Haller’s toes, dabbed on some ointment and gently eased a new pair of black compression socks onto his feet.

“It feels awesome — relief,” said Haller. “Everything is a blessing that everyone does for us.”

“It’s a blessing for us also, James,” Vargas said.

Top photo: ASU nursing student Alexandra Melikian massages and applies lotion to the blistered feet of Aaron Wauneka, from Sawmill, Arizona, as she and other students volunteered their services at a foot-care clinic at Community Christian Church in Tempe on Thursday. Wauneka pushes his grandfather 18 miles each day in his wheelchair. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News