GREENWICH — When Greenwich Academy art director Kristen Erickson borrowed Wall Drawing #797 by the late Connecticut conceptual artist Sol LeWitt, she was actually borrowing the directions so students could re-create the artwork in the school cafeteria.
“You’re very confined by the instructions, but you’re also very free,” she said.
To get started, a representative from the Sol LeWitt Foundation drew a free-form, horizontal black line. Then, a student drew a red line beneath it — without touching the black line — followed by yellow, then blue. The sequence of primary colors repeats until a line hits the bottom of the wall.
“It’s pretty intense to execute the line,” Erickson said, calculating the final work will have nearly 200 lines. “Everyone is excited about the unfolding of this piece.”
Every subsequent student exaggerates the natural dips and rises of the freeform line above it, exaggerating the lines until the work looks sculptural.
“It looks a lot like a fabric, a textile hung from the ceiling,” she said.
Erickson sees individual styles in each line: one that stops and starts with frequent ink deposits signals a careful artist, while bold lines taking up space reveal kids who “go rogue.”
LeWitt likened the freedom allowed in his instructions to a composer who writes a symphony, because every orchestra varies its performance and the work lives on after the artist dies, she said.
Erickson, an art history teacher and former museum curator, has seen hundreds of the 2,000 LeWitt installations worldwide. Through a connection at Yale University’s art gallery, she gained permission from the Sol LeWitt Gallery to borrow the instructions.
The cost varies based on the institution, who installs it and how long it remains she said, not revealing the final price tag. Greenwich Academy will display the installation through June, when it will be painted over.
The foundation keeps careful record of each installation. All students who draw lines write their name on a sheet of paper, which goes into a file at the LeWitt Collection in Chester.
“This is an opportunity for us to create this incredible, original work of art,” she said. “Everytime they’re created, they come out slightly differently because you respond to the directions differently.”