The next time you walk by the Black Box in the freshly revamped Hess Center, you might just see an image of yourself embroidered and buried amid an aggregation of gold.
Immense in size and exceedingly intricate, spanning seven feet, Lin Tianmiao’s opus currently sits in the Hilson Art Gallery. “The Golden Age” was created specifically with Deerfield in mind, to echo the memorable aspects of the Academy’s history and culture.
With a son, Shaun Wang ‘15, at DA, Lin is no stranger to the Academy.
Head of School Margarita Curtis gave a succinct portrayal of Lin, saying, “As Shaun indicates in his recent book on Beijing artists, his mother is one of the first female artists to gain international recognition, and one of the most accomplished and prolific artists currently working in Beijing and New York. Her works can be found in major museums such as MoMA, ICP, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Singapore Art Museum and the National Gallery of Australia.”
Possibly the most initially striking aspect of the piece is its medium–gold silk thread which is sourced from the same supplier serving the royal Thai family. Lin chose to compose her piece out of this material as the culmination of her observations and experiences with the Academy over the years.
Lin has come to the conclusion that the student body is “as precious as gold. It [the piece] comes from the depth of my heart. Your education is to ‘forge gold!’”
Lin’s creative process and actual construction of the piece were inspired by, and aimed to be reflective of, the process of the formative journey of a Deerfield student–arduous and lengthy, concluding fruitfully. Lin took almost a year to “pick a clear vision from thousands of possibilities.” She read documents, scrutinized visuals and mulled over the amalgamation of the two. Some of the images she contemplated were embroidered into the two-dimensional background of the piece.
Once the creative process came to an end, the challenge of the actual technical construction ensued. Production was painstaking, an intricate process, which Lin summed up: “[When] I finally came to the production stage, it took another year with 20 assistants, working daily without rest . . . around 800 working hours. I took it apart and then reconstructed it, again and again.”
In addition to the embroidered two-dimensional background, the piece also features three-dimensional objects protruding from it. These parts are also entirely coated in gold silk thread, which was meticulously positioned using adhesive by the 20 assistants.
Lin is aware that the piece is bound to evoke a range of responses. She hopes that observers will “keep an open mind. [People] should respond differently to my piece.”
A common initial observation from the student body is the color combination of gold and blue, which are perhaps coincidentally the school colors of the Academy’s long-standing rival, Choate.
Juan Cabrera ’16 provided a creative response to this questioning: “Perhaps the piece is blue and yellow because those colors make green, and that in turn means that two parts Choate equal one part DA. And that they will never be as great as us.”
When prompted for any words of advice for the piece’s viewers, especially those interested in the arts, Lin concluded, “Art has no boundary, it has unlimited possibility.”
“The Golden Age” is on permanent display in the Hilson Art Gallery and is definitely worth visiting and contemplating.
Dr. Curtis concluded, “We are deeply grateful for the art piece that Ms. Lin Tianmiao P’15, recently donated to the Academy, a piece that took close to two years to design and execute. I hope all members of the community will take the time to observe and delight in this compelling new piece of our permanent art collection.”