On a recent afternoon, the artist Teresita Fernández sat in the center of her latest creation, admiring the view. The sun dipped, sending rays through the thousands of orange-and-yellow-pinstriped tubes that form her Tercentenary Theatre installation, “Autumn (… Nothing Personal).” Soon the work was glowing.
As passersby slipped in and out of the frame, Fernández remarked on the work’s cinematic effect, in which “anything moving appears and disappears … as if each one of these tubes is almost like a shutter that opens and closes.” When a breeze rustled the 10-foot-high tubes, which rise from plywood benches arranged in concentric circles, the sound reminded her of “a bamboo forest.”
“This piece behaves in a certain way,” said Fernández of the installation, which was commissioned by the Harvard University Committee on the Arts (HUCA) and inspired by the change of seasons, the site’s storied history and imposing facades, and the 1964 James Baldwin essay “Nothing Personal.”
“It’s constantly changing,” the artist added.
Both change and light manifest as visible presences and invisible inspirations in “Autumn (… Nothing Personal),” installed between Memorial Church and Widener Library and on view through Oct. 1. During the day the piece reacts to the shifting sunlight, the shadows cast by the canopy of elms and the colors of the season. Embedded lights lend the work an entirely “different tone in its nocturnal hours.” Organizers hope planned performances and discussions in the space, many focused around Baldwin’s work, will further animate the installation.
Fernández’s entry point for the piece was Baldwin’s essay, a biting commentary on the violence he observed and experienced as an African-American living through the Civil Rights era. But Baldwin’s writing, she points out, also embraced change, and hope.