Husband-wife team debuts multicolored, Plexiglas mobile home

Christabel and Samuel Wagner's “Structural Circumstances E.G. 2” is both beautiful and terrible.

The 24-feet-by-8-feet installation, commissioned for the Columbus Arts Festival by the Greater Columbus Arts Council, borrows its scope and shape from a typical American mobile home and its design from stained glass. The piece, placed very pointedly on the festival grounds, is inspired by structures the married couple has encountered driving in the area around Samuel's southeastern Ohio hometown of Vincent.

“The general concept has been floating around for several years,” Samuel said. “As we were driving around Vincent, it came to [Christabel's] mind that what the project really needed was to drive home more about class structure, and we decided the idea of a trailer would be the best introduction to that.”

Made of colored, clear Plexiglas, the installation will be built on the east side of Bicentennial Park.

“The Plexiglas as an architectural structure allows viewers to see the layers [of the piece], but most important is the stained glass look,” Samuel said. “There is a conversation about the spirituality of poverty versus the high-arts world and the godliness of wealth. There might be a certain subtlety to it, but it being a trailer that will be situated right across from multimillion dollar condos kind of makes it in your face a little bit. We really chose the spot very consciously. I don't think we could have picked a better site. Do we want it to be controversial? Absolutely. We want people to be angry even if they're not sure why they're angry.

“The conversation we want to have is conflicting intellectually, but we wanted the piece to still be fun to look at.”

The installation will not be built to allow visitors to enter the structure, but natural light during the day and interior light from within the installation at night will allow for colors and shadows to fall across the area, including on patrons.

“The reason why we picked Plexiglas is it allows us to have a piece that is fun to look at during the daytime as well as when lit up at night,” Christabel said.

“One of the real beauties of the piece is that as it's shown it will shift with the daylight,” Samuel added. “When it's really sunny, it's going to be a beautiful orchestra of light, and as people see it their shadows will appear to be inhabiting the space, which will be a really interesting conversation in itself. Even when [the skies are gray], there is something really beautiful about the candy-coloredness of it, and in a lot of ways you'll get to see the piece in a little bit truer sense, as the colors won't interact as much. At nighttime, it's really going to illuminate and shine like a beacon.”