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Ellen Driscoll
Learn more about this art in progress

CAC Gallery exhibition, May 5 – June 30, 2005

Artist Reception: Thursday, June 2, 2005, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Make a Donation

The CAC Gallery is proud to present an exhibition by Ellen Driscoll related to a permanent public artwork that she is creating for the soon-to-be renovated and expanded Main Branch of the Cambridge Public Library. Driscoll has created for the CAC Gallery an installation using materials and visual references that evoke the histories of women, inquiry, and human invention.
Large perforated zinc panels line the walls and through simulated glass reveal the colorful textile patterns of many cultures. Wall-mounted cables weave a three-dimensional diagram representing the interconnectedness of all things. In a projection room, a virtual tour gives the visitor a sense of moving through the spaces of Filament/Firmament. In addition, a model of the Library installation will give the public a preview of Filament/Firmament as it will be seen in the new Library.

Driscoll’s artwork for the Library will honor the contributions of women to the life of the City and will be located in a sky-lit, two-story atrium that links the original Library building with the new addition. Using etched glass, perforated zinc panels, woven cable, text, and textile imagery, Driscoll’s art envelopes the audience within a metaphorical space. A diagram of the interconnectedness of women’s relational roles, their agency, and the places they influence and inhabit literally and poetically is brought into three dimensions by an intricate cable design that forms a web across the atrium, framing the sky seen through the glass roof. This woven design represents the oldest and most universal of women’s activities – weaving and sewing.

On the first floor of the atrium, the dot pattern of a jacquard loom punch card from the nineteenth century reveals a colorful lexicon of textile patterns from around the globe, made by the simple act of connecting string to string in an endless stream of invention. The textile patterns are etched into 240 glass circles cut into a zinc-covered wall. The jacquard loom punch card is the distinct precursor to the invention of computers, the research tool of the twenty-first century. The theme attempts to encompass all that may yet happen in the lives of women, men, and the city and in all fields of inquiry.

The library installation will be linked to educational and outreach programs through an extensive website that will document stories of the remarkable women of Cambridge. It will serve as a touchstone for study and inspiration and as a vehicle of inquiry.

Filament/Firmament is a collaborative of the Cambridge Commission on the Status of Women, the Cambridge Arts Council, and the Cambridge Public Library. With the mission of honoring the women of Cambridge, the artist, in collaboration with a cultural historian, has gathered stories and extensive information from the Cambridge community and historical resources. This information provides the background and inspiration for the public artwork.

About the Artist: Ellen Driscoll’ s sculpture, drawings, and installations have won her recognition nationally and internationally. Her numerous public art commissions range from a mosaic, brass, and glass installation in New York’s Grand Central Station to fabric banners above Boston’s public parks. Solo exhibitions include shows at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati. She is a recipient of Guggenheim and Bunting Fellowships, among other awards, and her work is in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum, and Addison Gallery of American Art. Driscoll is also a professor of sculpture at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Make a Donation

Filament/Firmament presents Cambridge with a unique opportunity to guarantee the installation of a permanent work of art honoring the women -- past, present and future – who have created and nurtured our city and continue to weave its history with theirs.

Your financial support will enable the completion of this project and the interactive website and curriculum linked with a database that documents the remarkable women of Cambridge.

Each individual gift, whatever your means, celebrates the lives and work of all women. Each contributor or honoree will be listed for posterity within the fabric of the project.

Golden Threads:each leadership gift over $1000 will be recognized in a manner integral to the site in consultation with the donors.

Silver Threads:each gift of $500 to $999 will be acknowledged in a visual format closely connected to the site.

Weavers’ Circle:lend your name or honor an individual, group or institution by sponsoring one of he glass circles etched with woven textile images with a gift of $240. Each donor or honoree will be inscribed in the permanent history of the project and on the website.

Downloadable Donation Form


© Cambridge Arts Council 2002-2003