National Exhibit – SET UP, Day 2

Things the National Exhibit does not lack: flexible gooseneck steel cable and various gauge steel wire. That’s what today was about. It’s hard to think about the fact that this morning we were still completing the last of the bent conduit. That feels like an entire day ago, because the gooseneck and wire took up a lot of time and energy for us today.

As you can maybe tell, the process for setting up the steel vortex cloud has been starting from the skeleton of the cloud, which is the bent conduit, and then working our way from largest to smallest gauge gooseneck and wire to shape the “cloud” or “wave”. So today the cloud grew from the initial skeleton and out with coils of various size of wire cable.

National Exhibit: Day 2, Vortex Skeleton. Photo credit: Katie Gruenhagen
National Exhibit: Day 2, Vortex Skeleton. Photo credit: Katie Gruenhagen
National Exhibit: Day 2, Cloud with gooseneck and wire. Photo Credit: Katie Gruenhagen
National Exhibit: Day 2, Cloud with gooseneck and wire. Photo Credit: Katie Gruenhagen

Gooseneck honestly has a mind of its own. We may have set the exhibit up twice before, but let me tell you it is not any easier to work with the gooseneck a third time. We all absolutely love the look it gives to the exhibit, and we know exactly what we want the flexible gooseneck wire to do, however it’s making it do what we want that is the tricky part.

I bet you can imagine how challenging it is to visualize the overall shape of the cloud while holding flexible wire cable that is tricky to maneuver and inches away from all the other coils you don’t want to disturb, all while standing in the center of the cloud, on a stair that can be less than a foot wide, that is 15′ in the air. Challenging, but man does it give the cloud exactly what it wants! An incredibly organic shape that has a life of its own.

Once we had a good amount of the gooseneck initially placed, we realized we were not switching up our location in the vortex enough. Most of us stayed in a similar location building off of the last coil we placed. After looking at the cloud’s shape during break, we quickly saw the areas that needed to be adjusted. We knew we had to constantly change up style and location of our coils, as well as constantly taking a step back to see the overall effect. After the next couple of work shifts, we saw a huge improvement to the overall shape that was more along the lines of what Klara and the curators were looking for. Taking a step back, no matter how busy or time crunched you may feel, is ALWAYS a good idea. Lesson learned!

Ahead of schedule, the last couple hours of the day began the process of placing the props, models and artifacts of the designs the National Exhibit is showcasing. It is very exciting to see items start to make a home in the cloud!

More to come! Tomorrow we will finish placing the artifacts and start placing lighting fixtures. Can’t wait to see the cloud glow.

National Exhibit: Day 2, Brad working with conduit.
National Exhibit: Day 2, Brad working with conduit.



Katie Gruenhagen

Katie Gruenhagen is a lighting designer and photographer living in Denver, Colorado. She recently received her M.F.A. in Lighting Design from Indiana University. Katie is the photographer and blogger covering the USITT Student Build Team for the U.S.A. National and Student Exhibits at the Prague Quadrennial 2015. As a part of the Indiana University Student Build Team, she has also served as a carpenter and electrician for the National Exhibit. At Indiana University, she was the lighting designer for nine main stage productions including Romeo and Juliet (award winning design at the 2014 Southeastern Theater Conference) and Into The Woods. To see her work and contact information, see

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