An unusual take on the idea of a group art show is reappearing at this week’s OZ Arts Fest. Modular Art Pods offer festival-goers a trip through tiny, interconnected spaces, each its own art installation.
Walking through can give the same pleasant or thrilling sort of disorientation as a carnival funhouse. The walls of most pods are thin enough for the sound of other people to leak through, and many include elements that let the person inside interact with people on the outside. Moving from one enveloping art experience to another (and another, and another) in such quick succession can play with the mind’s understanding of scale. It all adds up to an effect creator Tony Youngblood calls a “scare-free haunted house.”
Youngblood first solicited Midstate artists to create pods for a one-night event last year. For that iteration at Fort Houston, twenty-three artists made tiny spaces, each just big enough to hold one or two people at a time. Inside, the pods could be whatever the artist wanted: walls covered in drawings, a place to peek your head in to view a diorama, a light show or even a tiny performance space. Most were tall enough to walk through and even wheelchair accessible, but one section could only be seen by those willing to crawl through a four-foot-tall space.
This time at OZ Arts there are sixty pods, some larger than the 4x4 standard size. Roughly one hundred artists contributed, many working alone to craft a space, others working on a pod as a collaborative experiment. And rather than taking the form of one, mazelike tunnel, the pods have been grouped together by themes such as "Light into Darkness," "The Sound of Colors" or "Spies." The new version mixes heights of pods, so visitors may need to crawl to enter, but then find themselves standing and peering up in a very tall space before needing to crawl back out again.
The Modular Art Pods will be on display at OZ Arts Nashville throughout the festival, which ends Saturday. Next month, Youngblood will teach teenagers how to make their own art pods in a one-week workshop at the Nashville Public Library.
watch a video taken on a walk through last year's Modular Art Pods exhibit: