What does HOPE look like?

I love art installations. I have yet to create an installation purely of my own work, and so I turn to my greater community for help. Thankfully, the congregation at First United Church in Bloomington, Indiana is tolerant of my needs and gladly participates when I ask.

This winter, I was obsessed with finding hope. I asked the congregation, as well as the community groups that use our space, to send me images of hope from their cell phone cameras. My comment to them was that unless it was an image of their grocery list or the book they wanted to read, the content was probably something that other people might find hopeful.

wave of photographs on blue paper
An installation of photographs on blue paper creates a wave of hope in the hallway of First United Church, Bloomington, Indiana.

Assembling the wave of hope

Over the course of a month or so, I received 120 images, which I downloaded and sent off to be printed. My challenge was to combine these images in a way that made a statement, but did not require expensive framing and could be displayed easily on a painted cinderblock wall.

A few years ago, I had seen an installation of solar printmaking using cardboard and small loose-leaf binder rings. I decided to augment this idea to create what I was seeing as “A Wave of Hope.” I purchased four colors of blue scrapbooking paper — thick enough, but not too heavy — along with 500 1/2 inch binder rings. With a newly acquired ATG tape dispenser, I mounted the photos in either a landscape or portrait format on the blue paper. I drilled holes through the stacks of paper, and took the entire set to the site for assembly.


The challenge of the actual installing

With the help of my daughter Hannah, we created a makeshift armature out of dowel rods and the hanging system in the art hallway. We formed chains of imagery, linked with these rings and attached each one invisibly to the armature with fishing line. The chains moved up and down as if they were waves, but were attached to one another so that they did not twist and the entire piece had a bit more stability.

I don’t hear huge exclamations when people pass the installation, but they slow down and seem absorbed in the imagery. I think that is what hope is like — it will sneak up on you if only you are open to receive it.

If you are so moved– why not attach a hopeful image in the comment section?

6 Replies to “What does HOPE look like?”

    1. I think we can only do small things…but it is better than doing nothing at this point 🙂

  1. It’s even more arresting in person, but you’ve done a great job capturing the process and experience in this posting! Thank you, Elizabeth, for all the ways you enrich our lives, individually and as a congregational body, with your artistic vision. oxox MKP

  2. As an elementary school teacher, I am always in search of signs of hope. I believe my students need it as well. This display is beautiful! I love the simplicity of the presentation. How neat to see “hope” through another’s eyes. I’d like to do something similar with my students. Thank you for the inspiration.

    1. Hi Kelly,
      Thanks for reading! Feel to steal any ideas that might work for your class. I learned two things that might be of use… if you are drilling holes in stacks of paper — make sure the are in exactly the same place on each corner. Also those tiny rings are really hard to open. I had to use pliers! There might be some easier materials to use — perhaps ones that your class could manipulate better. Do they still make pipe cleaners? (They probably call them something else.) Happy creating! I would love to see what your class comes up with. E

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