High Museum of Art Commissions New Accessible Piazza Installation, Continuing its Site-Specific Series
Working with advocates with disabilities and their allies, Bryony Roberts Studio will create an inclusive and immersive environment
This summer, the High Museum of Art will present an immersive maze of accessible, sensory environments by award-winning design and research practice Bryony Roberts Studio as its seventh site-specific installation on The Woodruff Arts Center’s Carroll Slater Sifly Piazza. Titled “Outside the Lines,” the installation continues the High’s multiyear series of inclusive and inviting commissions to activate the Museum’s outdoor space and encourage community engagement. On view July 10 through Nov. 28, 2021, “Outside the Lines” emerged from conversations between Bryony Roberts Studio and self-advocates with disabilities and their allies throughout Atlanta, with the goal of creating a space that is engaging for all.
“‘Outside the Lines’ builds on our tradition of attracting visitors of all ages with participatory art experiences and providing a gathering space for all Atlantans to stimulate their sense of wonder and play,” said Rand Suffolk, Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr., director of the High. “We look forward to welcoming audiences with wide-ranging abilities to explore this year’s unique, outdoor installation.” “Outside the Lines” provides an environment that is accessible and playful for those with physical, developmental and/or intellectual disabilities, supporting discovery and social connection through an array of tactile environments. The installation aims to present a richer environment for everybody by offering spaces that celebrate a range of sensory experiences.
“Bryony Roberts is a designer who understands the power and immense responsibility of public space by creating community-based projects involving multiple collaborators,” said Monica Obniski, the High’s curator of decorative arts and design. “For me, her research-driven methodology gives weight to the project’s objective, while the aesthetic ambitions of interlocking geometries and colorful tactile surfaces offer a visually stunning and joyful experience for all Atlantans.”
The gently curving steel structure of “Outside the Lines” supports thousands of hanging strands, along the rise and fall of the frame, that will form both small enclosures for quiet relaxation and open environments for social interaction. Emulating a forest-like atmosphere, the tactile materials, designed in collaboration with individuals who are blind and visually impaired, invite safe interaction and enable dynamic navigation through touch. The variety and height of the materials provide a spectrum of exploration within reach of all people, including those who use wheelchairs and mobility devices, and produce a range of intensity and stimulation, offering choice for people with sensory sensitivities. Community engagement is a central part of the design process at Bryony Roberts Studio, with extensive conversations and interviews with local residents informing both the design and programming of a project. For this project at the High, Bryony worked alongside self-advocates with disabilities and their allies to collaboratively imagine a space that would be both inviting and playful. Representatives from the Center for the Visually Impaired suggested ideas for tactile navigation and exploration, while parent advocates from Parent to Parent of Georgia described the benefits of interactive materials and quiet spaces for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Self-advocates helped to brainstorm spaces both for social interaction and restorative calm, while doctors from the Marcus Autism Center and Emory Brain Health offered further insights into the relationship between materials, colors, textures and experience.
This project builds on the success of the six previous Piazza commissions: “Murmuration” by New York-based architectural firm SO - IL (2020); Japanese designer Yuri Suzuki’s “Sonic Playground” (2018); Spanish designer Jaime Hayon’s “Merry Go Zoo” (2017) and “Tiovivo” (2016); and 2014-2015’s “Mi Casa, Your Casa” and “Los Trompos” (“The Spinning Tops”) by Mexican designers Héctor Esrawe and Ignacio Cadena.