No matter what the question, performance artist John W. Love Jr.’s answer is yes.
In his experiential installation and one-man show, Love invites viewers to “contemplate notions of ‘yes.’ ” With the “Path of Yes,” the tiled installation on the floor of the Mint Museum Uptown’s atrium, this could mean sitting and contemplating in the meditative space; it could mean reading tiny cards and following the directions; it could mean taking off your shoes and walking across Braille paper whose raised bumps say “yes yes yes yes yes yes yes.” If you want to feel the plume-like “seed of yes,” so be it.
Whatever your “yes” is, follow it.
The Mint printed Love’s rules of engagement for the installation and distributed them around the atrium – they include directions like “Breathe. Slow down. Savor. Enjoy.” and “Touch with your eyes. Read with your feet.”
Even with rules and directions, Love isn’t expecting anything specific from viewers; he just wants them to participate.
“I would ask them to show up with themselves,” Love said, “and to respond accordingly. If they’re curious, then that’s a good start.”
Born and raised in Charlotte, Love has a deep relationship with the city and its arts organizations, many of whom are working with him to make this project happen. Called “FECUND,” it’s a product of Love’s creativity and hard work, but he is quick to mention his broad support system; receiving a multitude of yeses allowed Love to embark on the “Path of Yes.”
Yes from the ASC
Love received the Arts & Science Council’s McColl Award in 2011 – $25,000 to create a new work.
“FECUND” was one of six finalist proposals. The panel chose work they felt spoke to this time and place.
“I think this is very much a time of yes,” said ASC vice president Robert Bush. “It’s not a time when we are prone to say no. It’s a society where we say yes to lots of things, good and bad.”
Yes from McColl Center
In 2001, Love was an artist in residence at McColl Center for Visual Art. He focused on performance art. In 2009, he did an installation in the McColl elevator to celebrate the organization’s 10-year anniversary. When the center heard Love won the ASC’s award, they offered him another residency in 2012.
“I thought that having him come back for a second term to create the new work at McColl Center would be the perfect storm,” said Ce Scott, then McColl’s creative director.“This was a huge project and a milestone for John as an artist and creative thinker,” said Suzanne Fetscher, McColl’s president. “He likes to stir things up, and his work always has a wonderful sensuous quality to it. It’s intellectually titillating. He makes us uncomfortable at times, but that’s also the role of an artist.”
Yes from Winthrop
At the suggestion of Tom Stanley, Winthrop University’s chair of fine arts, art instructor Jon Prichard headed to the McColl Center to see if he could assist Love with his “Yes” installation. Prichard sought an opportunity to say yes.
And Love, predictably, said yes to him. Prichard was plugged in as fabricator, creating a 12 foot-by-36-foot wooden grid to hold the tiles.
“John’s very charismatic and he really sold the piece to me,” Prichard said. “His McColl studio, with all the richness of materials, and his enthusiasm for the project were appealing, and I like his concept of yes. That’s something I relate to personally and artistically.”
Prichard also mined his resources. He chose a handful of students to work with Love and create the tiles that cover the installation floor. They were given guidelines about the use of textures and set loose.
Yes from the Mint
There were a number of places considered for Love’s installation and performance. He says he’s been obsessed with the Mint’s atrium. The museum looks for ways to use that space, and a large-scale interactive installation fits.
Curator of Contemporary Art Brad Thomas likes the way Love’s installation relates to the art on the walls. “Just looking at it aesthetically ,” Thomas said, “you start to pick up all these connections.”
When is it OK to say no?
“You listen to your no when it is in service to your yes,” Love said. “If you are saying no in service of your yes, beautiful. But when you just go no, it’s hard to go any place from there. But when you go yes, you can go everywhere from that. Yes equals freedom, as far as I’m concerned. Yes equals flight, yes equals progression, yes equals creativity, yeah. All the things that are worth while.”