Closing Bell: A Flight of Fancy

Currents by Paul Villinski

Artist Paul Villinski created “Currents,” which was installed in the Goldring/Woldenberg Business Complex in September, out of 125 vinyl record albums.

New York artist Paul Villinski created “Currents” to celebrate New Orleans’ musical influence around the world. The whimsical work features 125 vinyl records crafted into a flock of birds that spring from a vintage turntable as they take flight across a wall in the lobby of the Goldring/Woldenberg Business Complex. Villinski crafted the birds using classic albums from New Orleans artists including Louis Armstrong, Mahalia Jackson, Kid Ory, Ernie K-Doe, Sidney Bechet and more.

“The first LP piece I did dates from about 2005 when I found some records in the Lower 9th Ward after Hurricane Katrina and started to work with those,” Villinski says. “Then I continued on to work with my own record collection. I’ve done a series of pieces with LP records since then.

“The birds that emanate from the turntable are kind of the seminal New Orleans musicians and then as the birds disseminate from the center, we get into more contemporary New Orleans musicians like Branford Marsalis and Dr. John.

“I try to practice a ‘simple alchemy,’ attempting to give these cast-off, ‘worthless’ objects surprising new identities, to infuse their stories with new layers of meaning,” Villinski says of his work. “The beauty that interests me most comes through the struggle to bring things from a place of loss, poverty, despair, into a new life — to insist on the possibility of transformation. I want to take these humble, damaged, discarded things and find out what they are capable of — what can be done with imagination, commitment, risk, labor — with enough love. My work is an exploration of the possible, at the heart of which is hope.”

“Currents” is a gift of Dr. and Mrs. Andrew Richman.

“Music occupies a central place in the soul of New Orleans, so it’s fitting that this extraordinary tribute now occupies a central place within the Freeman School,” said Ira Solomon, Freeman School dean.

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