MELISSA MCGILL’S CONSTELLATION
By Elizabeth Patterson
“Second star to the left and straight on till morning.” Everyone knows that line, that old adage we all hold so dear from the mouth of our favorite mischievous kid. The directions we could never follow to the place we most wanted to go. Like Peter, artist Melissa McGill took the heavens into her own hands with Constellation.
A three-year endeavor, McGill successfully crowd-funded this project, after being repeatedly turned down for countless grants. Finally coming to fruition, the project is truly a sight for sore eyes. Located away from the busy, bustling city on an island on the Hudson River, Constellation is a beautifully otherworldly installation. The ruined castle located there provides an eerie yet perfect backdrop for the solar-powered LEDS, which, though they are attached to poles, have a ghostly appearance of floating in the sky on their own. Even the island takes part in the surreptitious air, as it has several unconfirmed names and has been used to harbor a range of illicit activities, from prostitutes to bootleggers to what was eventually its demise: a castle built and packed with explosives. Combined with the installation, the whole thing sounds like it could be a mix between a David Lynch movie and an Edgar Allan Poe novella, but with the whimsical feeling of J.M. Barrie.
McGill states that she was inspired by Native American tribes and their belief that the Milky Way connects us from one world to the next. Indeed, the ruined castle acts as a physical representation of this metaphorical idea, with the decades-old remnants on the forsaken, shadowy island being connected with the new parts and bright lights of her artwork. The idea of decay and growth, old and new, a certain Pan-ish idea of being frozen in time and an aura of mystique make this an experience you want to have. Constellation will be on view until 2017.