Iliescus art is metaphor
By Jane Ford
into Sanda Iliescus office-studio, and it is immediately
evident that words play an important role in her work. On the
walls hang a number of text-based paintings that she describes
as fields of writing.
is not about making figures and objects, she said, but
making a field little figures linking together to make
piece, based on the text of Lincolns Gettysburg Address,
has been in progress for about a year. In this work, no
one thing is more important than another, said Iliescu,
assistant professor of architecture and art. Its a
metaphor for democracy.
plays a pivotal role in Iliescus life. Born in Romania,
she fled with her mother, first to West Germany, then to the United
States seeking political asylum from the communist regime. Only
17 years old, she was eager to speak English proficiently. She
used flash cards, which fill boxes in her studio, to help her
lose any trace of an accent. Democracy means a lot to me,
she said. It is not an easy thing. It is also associated
with a lot of pain, loneliness and alienation.
the Lincoln at Gettysburg piece, Iliescu brings together
these two compelling aspects of her life words and democracy.
But its the process of the piece that most interests her.
Educated as an engineer and architect, she likes designing systems.
For the work, Iliescu created a 2-by-3-foot drawing that includes
two sheets of paper. The one on top has small, flip-up windows
masking the sheet behind, much like an Advent calendar. On each
window is written a word of the text Lincoln spoke on Nov. 19,
1863, when he not only dedicated the field of battle as a final
resting place for those who gave their lives in battle, but also
rededicated the nation to democracy.
with the piece to a picnic at Carrs Hill, to offices of
staff and faculty, stopping students walking on Grounds and people
on the street, Iliescu asks individuals to fold back a window
and write the next successive word of Lincolns speech on
the bottom sheet, in their own handwriting and with a different
each persons contribution, Iliescu sews shut the window
with red thread that symbolizes the red wax used to seal documents.
The piece will remain a surprise until it is completed and the
threads are cut to reveal the tapestry created by the words. The
top and bottom sheets will be displayed side-by-side as
a representation of the process of its making.
person contributes. No one is more important than another,
she said. For her, its about reaching out and talking to
people, making connections. Everybody knows of the address,
some even quote the opening lines to me by heart, she said.
This was a major reason for choosing the text. Iliescu also wanted
to create a piece that makes modern art, which is sometimes viewed
as elitist, more accessible. I try to find things that we
all share, that we all have in common, she said.
architecture students, Emily Farnham, a recent graduate, and Gus
Lynch, a second-year student, are helping with the project. They
have been taking the drawing to different academic departments
and summer classes and will play an integral role in the next
phase of the project.
plans to develop the piece into a mural. By scanning the artwork
and blowing up the words, they will then use a laser cutter to
make stencils that will be used to paint a public wall.
some respects, turning the piece into a public wall drawing
fits Lincolns text his audience at Gettysburg was
close to 20,000 [people], said Iliescu. Most wall
writing employs highly controlled and uniform styling, such as
the classical lettering found on the stone friezes of buildings
and graffiti writing. In the Gettysburg mural, each word will
show a different hand.