The Birdsell Project: Adelaine Muth
The Birdsell Project is an experiment in reuse, impermanence, and adaptability. Founded in 2014 by Nalani Stolz and Myles Robertson, the projects seeks to revitalize underutilized spaces by opening them to artists and the community.
After a two-year hiatus the project is hosting a summer residency comprising 9 artists from around the world. Each artist (or collaborative duo) will create an installation inside Vested Interest, a former dry cleaning facility turned business incubator on South Bend's South East side.
Adelaine grew up in Upstate New York surrounded by art and artists on both sides of her family. Despite this background, she clearly recalls telling a friend that when she went off to college, she had zero intention of pursuing art.
That flipped during the second quarter of her freshman year, and in 2017 she earned a Bachelors of Fine Arts from the University of Washington in Seattle.
Adelaine’s introduction to installation art came during a 2015 study abroad stint in Rome. This experience proved to be pivotal beyond the introduction to installation - this was her first work with paper. Until that point she had worked exclusively in clay.
Over the course of the summer, The Birdsell Project hosts weekly dinners to introduce the residents to local artists, entrepreneurs, and general good-doers. During my time as a resident in 2016 I found that these dinners, combined with working in an interesting space, communicated strongly about this renaissance happening in South Bend.
Adelaine is one of five out-of-town residents this summer, and shared her perspective on the city:
I had never heard of South Bend before looking into the residency. The first thing I came across was an article about the Mayor – it was interviewing him about what he saw happening in South Bend, the revival and reinvigoration that was happening.
...and that proved to be true. I've gotten to meet young people who really love this place and are invested in it.
The Birdsell Project's location is a critical piece of the puzzle, because they aim to create site-specific installations. Pieces that reflect not only on the physical form of the space, but that also speak to it's history and past uses. Adelaine seeks to align this work with that prevailing goal. She describes it best:
For this piece I've taken into consideration the history of the space I'm in, as well as the feeling I get from South Bend. The space I'm in was used as a temporary holding and sorting space after the clothes were clean, until they were picked up by people and companies. I'm thinking about this in relation to my experience of South Bend.
Both for me have this feeling of just before something. The suspense of something on it's way to happening.
Over the past year Adelaine has begun working with metal through welding and forging at Penn State. This new skill set is on full display at Vested Interest, and while it may be difficult to get your bearings straight through the photos, she aims to create a dynamic experience for next week's opening:
I'm using treated paper and materials found in the building that emphasize the shape of the space and create different perspectives for the viewer to experience the space. I'll be using light to add the ethereal nature of the translucent paper and the ephemeral nature of the installation.