Skip to content

Introduction

Buoyant Force is a 50-foot steel sculpture by Sue Wrbican inspired by the paintings of American Surrealist Kay Sage (b. 1898, Albany, New York; d. 1963, Woodbury, Connecticut). Sage is recognized for her paintings of scaffolded structures and furled fabric in desolate landscapes. Tephra ICA organized the first comprehensive exhibition of Wrbican’s work, entitled Well Past the Echo, in Fall 2017. The exhibition featured photography, maquettes of Sage-inspired structures, and a site-specific installation. It was featured in The Washington Post and East City Art. Based on the success of the exhibition, Tephra ICA commissioned Wrbican to realize one of her structures at full-size in Reston Town Square Park. 

Installation Views

Installation Views Thumbnails
Sue Wrbican, Buoyant Force, 2020

Sue Wrbican, Buoyant Force, 2020

Sue Wrbican, Buoyant Force, 2020

Sue Wrbican, Buoyant Force, 2020

Sue Wrbican, Buoyant Force, 2020

Sue Wrbican, Buoyant Force, 2020

Sue Wrbican, Buoyant Force, 2020

Sue Wrbican, Buoyant Force, 2020

Sue Wrbican, Buoyant Force, 2020

Sue Wrbican, Buoyant Force, 2020

Image taken during fabrication

Image taken during fabrication

Image taken during fabrication

Image taken during fabrication

Image taken during fabrication

Image taken during fabrication

Sue Wrbican, Buoyant Force, 2020

Sue Wrbican, Buoyant Force, 2020

Sue Wrbican, Buoyant Force, 2020

Sue Wrbican, Buoyant Force, 2020

Sue Wrbican, Buoyant Force, 2020

Sue Wrbican, Buoyant Force, 2020

Sue Wrbican, Buoyant Force, 2020

Sue Wrbican, Buoyant Force, 2020

Sue Wrbican, Buoyant Force, 2020

Sue Wrbican, Buoyant Force, 2020

Image taken during fabrication

Image taken during fabrication

Image taken during fabrication

Image taken during fabrication

Image taken during fabrication

Image taken during fabrication

About Sue Wrbican

Image taken during fabrication

About Sue Wrbican

In 2014, Wrbican presented her installation and lecture “Continue the Temporary and It Becomes Forever” at the Zizek Studies conference at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Art, Architecture, and Planning. In 2015, her work The Eventual Outcome of an Instant was constructed at the Seligmann Center in Sugar Loaf, NY. She has held residencies at the Robert Rauschenberg Residency in Captiva, Florida; Kala Art Institute in Berkeley, California; The Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, Florida; and STUD Residency in Catlett, Virginia. She is a founding member of the Floating Lab Collective whose projects have been exhibited widely in venues such as ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany and the Nathan Cummings Foundation, NYC, NY. Her video Back Roof is part of Miranda July’s Joanie 4 Jackie Archive at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, CA.

Wrbican is an Associate Professor and Director of Photography at the School of Art at George Mason University and her education includes an MFA in Photography from the Rhode Island School of Design and BA in English Writing with a concentration in poetry from the University of Pittsburgh.

 

QR code

The Buoyant Oracle – A Sculpture That Talks Back

The Buoyant Oracle is a playful interactive feature that provides the opportunity to chat with Buoyant Force. Created by the Playful City Lab at American University led by Benjamin Stokes, Hazel Arroyo, Chris Karr, and Mitchell Loewen in collaboration with Sue Wrbican and Tephra ICA, the installation features an evolving cast of guest oracles and narratives over the next five years.

The interactive feature is activated by using your phone to scan the on-site QR code. Once activated, in a conversational mode, the sculpture sends participants annotated photographs similar to polaroids that reveal the layered history, artist philosophy and production process behind the monumental artwork. Connected to the surrealist tradition of the sculpture, the participant may encounter an Oracle when engaging with the feature that will pull different “readings” of paired poetry and remixed images of the sculpture. The goal, with an eye to social distancing, is to provide a light-hearted layer of engagement to connect during this unique time with the whimsical nature of Tephra ICA's largest installation to date.

As a design project, the Buoyant Oracle explores how digital modes can strengthen the connection to place, borrowing concepts from game design such as: offering choices, cultivating playful participation, and embracing unpredictability that results in each participant having a unique experience of their own. The experience only requires a mobile phone — no fancy apps or even a data plan are needed. Try it yourself by visiting the sculpture in-person at Reston Town Square Park and look for the blue sign with a speech bubble located next to the sculpture!

Fundraising Initiative

Tephra ICA is pleased to launch the Buoyant Force fundraising initiative offering the opportunity to collect a special, numbered, limited-edition print signed by the artist, Sue Wrbican.
View available prints here. Once on the page, scroll down to the Buoyant Force Fundraising Initiative.

 

Thank you to the Team

Paul Agutter and Bryan Layman, ECS Mid-Atlantic
Doug Bond, MacMullan & Associates
Will Bowers, Arcwel Metal Fabricators
Geoff Lewis and Victoria Wyrick, Architecture Incorporated
Rob McLoughlin, Commercial Concrete
The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company
Howard Connelly Design
Harry Mayer
Paintech

The Generous Donors

ARTSFAIRFAX       
Public Art Reston
Reston Community Center
Reston Town Center Association 
Romeo Alaeff
Marshall Bishop
Julie Caldwell
Catherine Day
Leila Gordon
Robert Goudie
Jennifer Kelly
Melissa Koskovich
Roslyn Maholland
Benjamin Morse
Lizzi Pittman
William Reeder
Lisa Rosenstein
Justin Roykovich
Thomas Samartino
Scott Sizer
Helen & Joe Stiskal
The Tamarus
Nancy Wimberg
Ingrid Zodrow

Videos

WETA Around Town | Streaming Edition: Buoyant Force

WETA Around Town | Streaming Edition: Buoyant Force

In Conversation: Lily Siegel and Sue Wrbican on Buoyant Force

In Conversation: Lily Siegel and Sue Wrbican on Buoyant Force

Back To Top