Against the Grain

“Against the Grain” was a 2016 partnership exhibition between Progressive’s Edison team and the Corporate Art department. The exhibition coincided with Edison’s five-year anniversary and brought together two Progressive engines of innovation, collaboration, and change.

Exhibitions against the grain banner

A Souvenir of a Thought

During the first three weeks of “Against the Grain,” Progressive people were invited to share in the creation of a new artwork for our collection by collaborating with visiting artist Nathaniel Parsons. Through his experiential process, Nathaniel encouraged the sharing of ideas and perspectives. During his residency, he asked people to help him transform an ordinary object—a picnic table—into a multi-faceted piece of art. Over the course of the project, Progressive people influenced the carving of this table by directly sharing concepts through drawings and conversations. The process and the resulting artwork reflected the innovative, creative, and collaborative spirit of Edison. In addition, the stripping away of personal authorship highlights communication, cooperation, as well as Nathaniel’s own belief that an artwork becomes a “souvenir” of a thought.

Always Better with Others (Built on a Linger) Remains Interactive

The carving aspect has ended, but Progressive people are still encouraged to interact with the sculpture.

Make Your Own Drawings (Built on a Linger)

We are all invited to use the provided art materials to create our own individual drawings. The table itself provides a great beginning to a composition. Using the table as a transfer surface, participants are encouraged to place a piece of paper anywhere on the table and, with the rubbing crayons, transfer the carved textures onto the paper. This works best with a light back-and-forth scribble (be extra careful to not get crayon marks on the sculpture). A collage of transferred rubbings might be your entire composition, or you might want to embellish further. You can add your own hand-drawn elements or even incorporate text by using the rubber stamp alphabet set. You can take your drawing with you or leave it on display by clipping it to the ropes around the table.

Create a Memorable Meeting (Always Better with Others)

This unique sculpture also provides a great gathering place for teams to get together and have meetings. Sitting with others and discussing ideas at the artwork is both rewarding for ideation and an ideal fulfillment of how the artist sees his work being utilized. “Win win,” as we like to say at Progressive.

Selections from “Against the Grain”