Kate Browne | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Kate Browne

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Conceptual artist Kate Browne visits the Mississippi Museum of Art Wednesday, Nov. 9, for a planning session for a project she will install in The Art Garden next spring. It's a community participatory outdoor art installation called a cocoon that is made of local materials. The project happens March 12 - 25.

Browne created a community cocoon in Greenwood, Miss., last year. She and people from Greenwood constructed it out of bamboo, giant cane and willow. Browne used solar power and three LED bulbs to illuminate it.

She's also overseen cocoon building in Cragsmoor, N.Y., and Tlatelolco, Mexico City, Mexico. On average, her cocoons are 26 feet long and about 10 feet high. The New York cocoon used corn stalks, while the Mexican one had a frame of plastic tubing and about 3,000 veins from banana leaves as a skin.

"People then created miniature cocoons around a meaningful object," she says on a video posted on her website. "These were hung in the large cocoon and I recorded their stories."

She's trying to get some community awareness around the upcoming Jackson project, to get as many people involved as possible. To see examples of her cocoons, visit her blog.

"I have purposely designed the cocoon so that everyone can build it," she says. "I lead the building, keeping this in the forefront of my strategies. This way I make no hierarchies to divide the community that is involved, or pigeon hole people into preconceived notions of what a person can and can't do to achieve the cocoon. In the end, the process will clearly represent the community I have chosen to work with--their past and present."

She says the large cocoon is a physical representation of the community, and the miniature cocoons are the individual voices of the people living there.

The first step in the process is the community building the large cocoon structure together, then making the skin and covering the frame--all with local materials.

"I also ask people to find an object that has meaning to them and build a miniature cocoon around it," she says. These recordings and photographs of the miniature cocoons will be part of a larger exhibition.

Browne will be in The Palette Cafe by Viking at the museum this Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. for an informal meeting to answer questions abut her project. At noon, she will give a more structured presentation and discussion in Trustmark Grand Hall.

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