The Front Row

The Front Row, Thursday, 09/18/2008

Today, we talk with author Benjamin Taylor, whose historical novel, Tales Out Of School , chronicles the struggles of a family in the wake of the devastation of Galveston Island by the hurricane of the year 1900. Also we follow artist Aurora Robson around the Rice Gallery as she installs her new site-specific piece,, The Great Indoors , a lager-than-life assemblage of thousands of plastic bottles that replicate the inner structures of the human body.

The exhibition, entitled The Great Indoors, combines over fifteen-thousand plastic water bottles that have been fused together, creating membrane-like translucent tunnels, swirling suspended sculptures, and hanging atoms lit by solar-powered LED lights that illuminate the gallery space at night.  The pieces are colored with tints of fuchsia, orange and red, all alluding to the colors of the body’s interior.  For the past three months, the artist has worked with more than twenty assistants to paint and assemble the work’s components and has managed to finish building this plastic wonderland despite the recent hurricane.

Dedicated to creating beauty out of unwanted objects, such as these discarded plastic water bottles, Aurora Robson has made this installation into a living organism that gives each person a look into his own internal wilderness. KUHF’s Meghan Hendley got a sneak peek at the piece when she spoke with the artist during the installation process at the Rice Gallery.
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At the end of the Nineteenth Century, Galveston was a boom-town with a population of 42,000.  It was the biggest city in Texas, and its trade center.  That coastal town was struck on September 8th, 1900, by a Category Four cyclone that packed winds of 135 miles per hour, leading to tremendous loss of life and making the “Great Storm” the U.S.‘s deadliest natural disaster to that date.  Benjamin Taylor’s novel, Tales out of School, is a work of fiction that re-imagines that tragedy in the days and years afterwards.  The year is 1907, and Felix Mehmel whose father had died in the hurricane, is coming of age in Galveston among the members of his German-Jewish family.  Author and Columbia University Creative Writing professor, Benjamin Taylor, spoke about his novel by phone from New York City with our host, St. John Flynn.

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