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“Navigating Life”

This unique vessel conveys a profound statement about the human condition.

The centerpiece of Provence’s exhibit, “BUOY,” is a boat he fabricated from an old school bus. He chose the bus as an iconic symbol of the optimism and quest for knowledge present in childhood. A metaphor for the human journey through life, the vessel appeared to drift amidst buoys representing five values Provence believes we are made to pursue: relationships, beauty, spirituality, joy, and justice.  “Our lives should be full of enchantment, rediscovery, and being in the moment,” he said. “However, if we aren’t careful, we can end up settling for something less, or ‘shadows’ of these pursuits.” The shadows are, respectively: isolation, sentiment, introspection, pleasure, and vengeance.  Reflecting on the five values, he hit upon the boat and navigation metaphor after reading a secondary definition of buoy: to encourage or uplift.  He found that the synonyms for “buoy”: hearten, rally, invigorate, and inspirit, further cemented the course of this project. “That tied right into rediscovery and re-enchantment,” he said, adding that he’s always felt a connection to water, and his father had always owned boats. He decided to create a modern boat after considering the wealth of designs offered by maritime history. His first challenge was to locate a bus he could repurpose. A local school district was delighted to donate one. Although Provence has often incorporated a variety of media in his sculpture – metal, glass, neon – this project presented the challenge of incorporating new materials and technology. The motorized buoys emitted EL lighting, and an original video and ocean sounds emanated from within the boat.  Provence incorporated electroluminescent lighting and Arduino technology, which synchronized the lights, audio, and video.

By Julie Waechter

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