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‘What Museum Lets An Artist Bust Up Their Floors?’

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John Michael Kohler Art Center

New York City-based artist Serra Victoria Bothwell Fels’ “Untitled (Rupture)” sculpture solidified her as a ground-breaking sculptor—literally. The focal point of the flooring-based art piece bursts through prefinished oak, splintering boards and culminating in hill-like mounds in the floor of the House Gallery at the John Michael Kohler Art Center in Sheboygan, Wis. The “secret” that many visitors don’t realize, however, is the piece spans the entire room, as Fels and friend Aaron Polansky installed prefinished flooring with brad nails over plywood floated over the museum’s original historic wood floors. “For many, Rupture creates a tension between what you understand to be unlikely (‘What museum lets an artist bust up their floors!?’) and what you are seeing,” Fels says. The sculptural protrusion in the floor was crafted with cedar shims and joint compound on a plywood form and spans 16 feet in length. Fels used a table saw to thin the boards leading up to the protrusion to make them easier to bend. “There was a lot of fussing to get it to sit just right,” she says. Fels says she’s grateful to flooring pros who shared installation advice online, where she did her installation research. Because sometimes, in order to bust the rules, you need to know them. “I love to parasitize existing architecture using conventional house-building techniques to create fantastical works of quasi-science fiction to make us question the literal foundations of our lives,” Fels says.

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