Pop-up exhibit explores the meaning of home

Home. It haunts and eludes us. A definition of home that describes a physical place with four walls and a roof — like a house or an apartment — fails to capture the breadth and meaning of that tiny, familiar word.

OPN, alongside of several other architecture firms at the invitation of the University of Iowa Stanley Art Museum, has spent the last several weeks exploring the idea of home in the 21st century for Going Home, a pop-up exhibit from Nov. 2 to 15 on the Ped Mall in Iowa City, in conjunction with an exhibit of the same name at the Figge Art Museum through the end of January..

Where is home? What is home? How do you define home? These questions inspired OPN’s Iowa City studio as they sought to manifest a physical representation of home.

They found the concept of “home” difficult to describe in terms of both its physicality as well as the passing of time. Is home where you grew up, where your parents live, or where you see yourself today? What if home is more closely tied to nostalgia, a sentimentality for the past? Nostalgia, the combination of Greek words meaning “homecoming” and “pain” or “ache” was originally a clinical description for anxiety or melancholy. Our heart aches to return home; our memories fuel this passion.

Home is more infinite than time or place. It is a feeling formed by our memories. Yet memories are imperfect, and often forgotten until evoked and recoded by photographs. This cloud of memories is a mixture of sadness and joy, love and hate, acceptance and exclusion. Sometimes our memories are clear and accurate and sometimes they are a distant shimmer just beyond our recollection.

This concept of home as a cloud of memories, inspired OPN’s installation. Using mirrored surfaces and photographs, the exhibit speaks both to how home reflects our personal identities and is shaped by an amorphous cloud of memories and infinite reflections. The photographs are mounted on a reflective surface so as the day passes, the memories shift, shimmer, disappear and reappear. The amount of daylight will change the transparency of the window and thus change the amount of the viewer that is reflected in the image.

As you see yourself reflected in this exhibit, we hope that, however your memories of home resonate, you feel at home and welcome here.

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