Starting today, a 40-foot dome in Director Park kicks off a multi-city tour for Umpqua Bank.

The dome—a digital, interactive structure that fits four people at time—is the centerpiece of Exhibit:Growth, a new Umpqua-commissioned outdoor installation developed by eight artists,  including three Portlanders: Blaine Fontana, Aaron Rayburn, and Blaire Saxon-Hill.

The dome contains four 8-by-16-foot screens, designed to take away visitors’ peripheral vision, immersing them in an interactive experience intended to evoke growth and change. The screens’ displays respond to visitors’ movements, creating a personalized, metaphorical representation of movement.

“It will be an extraordinary experience,” says Eve Callahan of Umpqua Bank. An experience she says hopes will spark financial dialogue—a topic, she believes,  under-discussed in our society. Who, after all, helps us take on difficult conversations? Artists do.

Artists like Aaron Rayburn. In 2011, Esquire named him “one of the 12 most innovate designers in America.” Aaron, an Oregon native, has collaborated with famous Portland organizations such as Nike, The Portland Timbers, and Wieden and Kennedy.

He was working when I called him. “I’ve got paint all over my hands, that’s how it goes,” he said.

Umpqua Bank approached him with the idea of growth and human potential, asking him what he could build out of string.

The only catch was the constraints of Director Park. And those, he said, are pretty intense. “The project has to be structurally sound, it has to stand by itself, it can’t leave any marks in the park, and it has to be large and visible at the same time.”

Aaron says he wanted to express the building nature of lava, with his artwork.

“You and I are surfing on lava right now,” he said, “The idea of cosmic forces being the foundation of what we stand on.”

As I spoke with Aaron, he said he was loading his artwork into the truck in twenty minutes, then shipping it off to Director Park, where he would quickly set it up in the cold. “We’re having a temperature drop today,” he said, “It’s really windy and cold, we’ll see how my little fingers do out there.”

He paused, “Cosmic forces man,” he said.

Aaron believes in making bold, strong statements that are surprising and graphic. He strives to make artwork that he would like, realizing that other humans will be drawn to it as well.

“Art is supposed to quiet the mind and open the soul,” he says to me.

Then he reminisces: born in Portland, moved near the Umpqua river in Southern Oregon. “So Umpqua has always been close to my heart,” he says.

Exhibit:Growth will be displayed in Director Park Nov 14 to 23, 11 am to 9 pm daily, before moving on to five other cities.

 

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