One place at a time
Artist Linny Giffin's newest Rosslyn installation is part of a broader placemaking strategy
Artist Linny Giffin doesn't mind hard work. Last summer, when the Rosslyn BID commissioned the co-founder of The Lemon Collective to create a piece of fiber art for The Alcove pop-up store, she spent five days on a ten-foot ladder stringing thousands of pieces of brightly colored yarn to a wire frame hanging from the ceiling.
A detail of one of the gumball chandeliers Giffin created for this summer's Rosslyn Putt-Putt. Photo by Birch.
Earlier this summer, she collaborated with the Rosslyn BID a second time to produce whimsical chandeliers for Rosslyn Putt-Putt + Candy BAR. This time, she was stringing 1,000 gumballs together using a drill and some large rings. It took almost two weeks of tender loving care to bring the chandeliers into being.
This week, she's outside working on Central Place Plaza on her latest masterpiece: an installation of 800 silk leaves that will hang from the glass pergola. Giffin made eight different types of leaves in orange, yellow and blue to be used for this project. She spent two weeks painting them, and then affixed wire to each one to facilitate hanging.
Her creations are part of the Rosslyn BID's placemaking strategy, which seeks to enhance active public spaces and create new ones that people will enjoy.
"Linny's work supports our efforts to develop connections between people and public spaces," says Rosslyn BID Events Director Sophie Barral, who has worked closely with Giffin on all her Rosslyn projects. "The BID works every day to deepen a sense of place and community within the neighborhood. It starts when we enhance the experience in our public spaces where thousands of people walk every day."
Giffin's leaves at Central Place Plaza mark her first outdoor installation—a new challenge for her. Two weeks ago, she was worried about the wires she inserted into the leaves to help them hang. They seemed to be coming out.
"I'll figure it out," she says. "Problem-solving is part of the job. I measured everything ahead of time, and of course I want to be able to just show up and do everything according to plan. I do that to the best of my ability, but challenges always come up. Once I'm onsite, there has to be some fluidity. It can produce anxiety but I also enjoy the critical-thinking aspect of this work. I believe there's always a solution."
Giffin says when doing art installations, it can take some time to get into a rhythm, but once she does, her work progresses efficiently.
It took Giffin hours to tie thousands of pieces of yarn to a wire frame to create this beautiful artwork, Rainbow Cloud, which hung in The Alcove last summer. Luckily, she had a friend helping her.
"When I hung the yarn in The Alcove, I eventually figured out the most streamlined process: I'd cut all the yarn first and then create piles of colors. I'd grab a whole pile of yarn in one color and be on the ladder for a while tying each piece individually. I had some late nights, but it was still fun. I listened to podcasts and I had a friend helping me. I really do enjoy it."
Giffin is definitely being noticed for her hard work. Together with her Lemon Collective co-founders Holley Simmons and Kathryn Zaremba, she was named a "Woman to Watch" on Washingtonian's 2017 list of the Most Powerful Women in Washington. Besides her work for the BID, she's created artworks that hang at The Lemon Collective and at several D.C. area restaurants, including Tiger Fork, Himitsu and Karma. She says she likes working with the Rosslyn BID because projects she's created here have allowed her to be more playful.
"Each one has been like an explosion of color and personality," she says. "I like doing that kind of work, and I appreciate having a client who trusts me and appreciates my creative voice."
Giffin will be installing her leaves from 9-5 every day this week on Central Place Plaza just outside McDonald's. Drop by to watch her work! And save the date for a special launch event August 15 from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. We'll officially welcome the leaves to the plaza, where they'll hang until mid-September.
1. The Rosslyn BID's project aligns with a broader trend that began in 2012 when the Portuguese creative agency Impactplan Art Productions (formerly Sextafeira) developed The Umbrella Sky Project, a simple canopy of colorful umbrellas that is being replicated around the world to enliven events and public spaces.
Photo at top: Linny Giffin preps for her leaf installation, which is taking place in Rosslyn this week on Central Place Plaza.