Sky Stage transforms a burned building shell into an interactive building-scale public art work. This pre-Revolutionary War building was damaged by a major fire in 2010 and remained boarded for many years, having lost its roof and second story. Artist Heather Theresa Clark transformed the burned building shell into an open air theater with a living sculpture that winds through the building’s doors and windows. Framed by historic stone walls, Sky Stage’s open-air theater seats an audience of 140 people among trees.
The centerpiece of Sky Stage is a two story sculpture with ribbons of drought-resistant plants that twist and wind through a wooden lattice and the building’s doors and windows. Rainwater is collected from a neighboring building’s roof and is stored in the sculpture’s bright yellow rain cistern, irrigating the drought-resistant sedum plants and native maple trees, and sustaining life in this once blighted building. Artist Heather Theresa Clark collaborated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Digital Structures research group who computationally engineered the sculpture’s complex wooden lattice with custom geometry-generating algorithms.
Frederick Arts Council operates the theater and invites the local community to use Sky Stage for their own performances and activities, providing a public gathering space for those that may not otherwise have a venue to share their talent. Transforming this blighted building into a living public space has inspired the local community to perform and organize. The Frederick Arts Council facilitates local residents and community groups to run creative endeavors. Highlights of the season include concerts, literary nights, yoga, dance, STEAM events for kids, a summer free lunch and art program for low-income children, the RECLAIM Concert for Sexual Assault Awareness month, pop-up gallery space for the local children and artists, local film nights, a neighborhood peace concert, and children’s story time and visits by naturalists.
Sky Stage was conceived by artist Heather Theresa Clark out of a desire to create a large-scale transformative community art intervention in an underutilized space. Because boarded up buildings like this often sit for years due to lack of funding for redevelopment, Clark decided to create an art intervention that with limited funds could make a big impact on the community. At Sky Stage, the artwork is not just the living sculpture, but rather the overall transformation of the building and how the public uses the space.
Sky Stage is made possible through the generous support of a large group of sponsors. To learn more about the project, check out ww.skystagefrederick.com
PHOTO CREDIT– Bill Adkins, Jim Hamann, Jason Turner, Bill Green, Sarah Jo Pixley, Heather Theresa Clark