When the Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA) asked studio art majors Rachel Lee ’16 and Clover Powell ’16 to assist with the installation of a Sol LeWitt wall drawing in the museum’s atrium, it seemed a pretty straightforward task. LeWitt, who famously stated, “The idea becomes a machine that makes the art,” was known for giving precise, detailed instructions to his draftspeople, who turned the ideas into thousands of artworks that appear around the world.
But when it came to interpreting those instructions, “There’s some subjectivity,” Lee says. “The plan says you have to make a straight line, so you tape it that way. But your brush might wobble a little bit. It’s inevitable that your hand comes out.”
Lee, Powell and other local artists spent several weeks in the fall installing Wall Drawing #1089: Bars of Color under the guidance of Gabriel Hurier, who’s worked for LeWitt and his estate for 11 years. The students learned not only how to apply tape and hold a pencil or brush, but also what Lee calls “the in-between steps: Keep your brushes clean. Keep your water clean. Keep your buckets clean—wipe out the rims all the time. That’s important, too. It all adds up to what you see on the wall.”