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Earlier this summer, Paula Crown‘s JOKESTER debuted at the base of Aspen Mountain. The new site-specific public sculpture depicts an enlarged red SOLO cup. Just in front of The Little Nell hotel, the monumental work is a continuation of the artist’s “SOLO TOGETHER” series, which invites viewers to consider social experiences, memory, and the human trace.
Whitewaller spoke with Crown, who considers Aspen her second home, about better understanding the marks we make on the world.
WHITEWALLER: JOKESTER is a continuation of your series “SOLO TOGETHER.” What was it like to create the red SOLO cup at such a scale? How did you want it to interact with the landscape of Aspen?
PAULA CROWN: The heroic scale of JOKESTER calls for attention. Nature’s majesty is undeniable in Aspen, and the scale of the cup responds to the lush green mountain behind it. It is big and red and tells us to “stop.” We need to pause and be mindful of our relationship with such conveniences as single-use plastics. They come with a price that we all will bear sooner or later. It amplifies the message of “SOLO TOGETHER,” that we need to address this challenge. We must understand the marks the world makes on us and the marks we make on the world as individuals. Our lives depend on it.
WW: You’ve created public works before. What do you like about the process and the inevitable social engagement?
PC: The process of creating public art is always challenging because of the many variables that come into play. It is highly collaborative which I find rewarding. That energy is expanded and transferred when you present the work to the public. It then becomes collaborative in a different way, especially with social media. I’m keenly interested in the spontaneous current ignited by the work’s interaction with the public. I hope that the work will be a platform for conscious engagement and new ideas for how we will move forward together.
WW: Why is it also important for you to raise the question of sustainability in this work, especially in Aspen?
PC: I always start with, “We need the Earth, the Earth doesn’t need us.” As a species, we are at a critical juncture and need to take responsibility for our habits and the mindless conveniences contributing to the destruction of our planet. The SOLO cup is a ubiquitous vessel that has become so integrated into our culture, that it has become difficult to fathom the consequences of its use.
WW: What does Aspen as a place represent for you?
PC: Aspen is my second home, and I’m continuously enriched and energized by the culture and the landscape. It is one of the few places where art, culture, and nature are so intimately connected.