CCT: AIPS profile - S. Louden

Sharon Louden
{Merge} Merge
polished, brushed and colored aluminum, stainless steel fasteners
(lobby of the Social Sciences and Humanities building)


Merge is a site-specific installation that spans three areas of Oak Hall in an organically flowing river of shiny aluminum. Appearing as if it comes from nature, the man-made material implies constant movement while reflecting the changing light throughout the day and night.


Begun as a small idea in 2004, Merge has continued to grow ever since. From temporary exhibitions in Utica, New York, (Munson Williams Proctor Institute Museum of Art) and Washington, DC, (Project 4 Gallery), to a large site-specific installation for an exhibition at the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis, Merge has continued to evolve and has now found a permanent home in Oak Hall on the campus of the University of Connecticut.


Merge creates a magical world that shimmers and bubbles with activity, mirroring the movement of students and faculty as they scurry back and forth between classes. These compositions can be seen as anthropomorphic beings, “crawling” all over the ceiling and in the opening between the first and second floor of the north lobby, “merging” all at once into each other while also extending their flow into the south lobby, implying a quiet (or not-so quiet) invasion of each space. The installation is also a “drawing-in-space,” as the organic shapes exude unlimited moments of tension/release depending on one’s vantage point.


Consisting of over 100,000 hand-bent aluminum strips in various colors and finishes (matte and shiny raw, bronze, yellow, white, blue, red, black, orange, and blue), as well as different sizes (1x7”, 1.5x10”, 2x10”, 2.5x13”, 3x19”, & 4x24”) and thickness (10-40 mil), each piece was  composed by me and held together with over 10,000 steel screws (3/4” & 1 ¼”). The sculpture was built slowly, pieceby- piece, component-by-component on site, until a large unifying installation came to life, changing during each day of installation as I reacted to the space, what had come before, and how my vision was finally to be realized.


A team of 10 assistants worked for nearly a month straight during winter break (2012-13) to install the piece. Conservation plans are minimal as long as the piece remains dry, since aluminum will remain unblemished if it doesn’t get wet. Maintenance is simple: dust can be removed by applying an air blower and/or feather duster from time to time when needed.


As part of the University of Connecticut’s growing art collection, Merge will last as long as the building remains in place, interacting with the community on a daily basis.