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Installing a ‘Passage’ at the Morris-Jumel Mansion

01 Dec 2015, Posted by CJ Padron in Uncategorized

We recently were called upon to work on a site-specific wallpaper installation created by artist Talia Greene on display at the Morris-Jumel Mansion (MJM) in Washington Heights.

When the mansion was built in 1765, on an estate which stretched over 130 acres from the Harlem to the Hudson Rivers, it was surrounded by marshes, farmland and beautiful, lush forest. As the years went by, urbanization changed the landscape of the area. This change in landscape was the inspiration for Passage, a hand-painted wallpaper installation created by Ms. Greene for the MJM.

Passage is made of two pieces, a mural in the main stairway and a floor-based installation on the second floor of the house. As you walk through the hallway on the first floor, the design on the wallpaper represents the growing city of Manhattan, a depiction of the city grid. As you continue up the stairs, the grid is intermingled with chinoiserie style images of birds, grape leafs and morning glory.

 

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Continuing on to the second floor, you are taken back in time, to a place where the city grid dissipates and natural motifs dominate, and to a time before urbanization took over the area. Clusters of passenger pigeons feasting on berries, surrounded by leaves from the American chestnut tree are on display on the wallpaper. The piece in Aaron Burr’s bedroom displays wild grape vines growing wild, covering the furniture and weaving amongst the roses in the carpet.

Ms. Greene said she “loved the idea of using motifs from inside the house to describe the history of its surroundings.”

“I would like visitors to think more about our impact on the natural world, and to see our relationship to the environment in the context of history.” – Talia Greene

This installation had to be executed precisely because the wallpaper itself was designed so the grids and birds fell in exact locations within the two floors and the stairwell that covered over 20,000 sq. ft. This included some tight spaces to work within while carefully ensuring the beautifully designed illustrations were placed to complement the interior of this historic mansion.

 

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“Passage uses existing styles and motifs in the house to explore the changing landscape surrounding the house over time,” Ms. Greene said.

 

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Passage is on display until Oct. 27, 2016 and in conjunction with the installation, MJM also hosted a Wallpaper Family Day on November 15, during which parents, caregivers, and children will learn how to make wallpaper designs of their own. Be sure to make it a trip to see this historic property and see this beautiful installation.

 

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