Bunnies: A cute, elusive route to online community?

Installation of scores of rabbits next to library will be complete Thursday. Then, the adoptions begin.

Photos/Charles A. Radin

Installing bunnies on the slope next to the library complex.

Sarah Bierman '14

A family of wooden bunnies has been multiplying like, well, rabbits this week on the steep slope next to the main library complex. The first few arrived Monday, and their numbers immediately began increasing exponentially. But please don’t touch them…yet.

Sarah Bierman ’14, creator of the outdoor installation titled “There are Bunnies Everywhere,” says she hopes to evoke from viewers the thoughts she has when she sees bunnies throughout campus at night: cute but elusive.

“When viewers first see the bunnies, they will think that they are real for a moment or two,” says Bierman. “The disappointment that follows the realization that they are in fact wood is quite similar to the rejection I experience when real bunnies elude me."

But Bierman does not want her audience to feel disappointed for too long.

She hopes there will be an unexpected moment of joy that evolves into something lasting when the installation is complete, on Thursday at 11 a.m., and she extends a formal invitation to the Brandeis community to adopt a bunny. The only request is that new owners photograph their bunnies in their new homes and post the images on a Facebook page that she has created so everyone’s stories can be shared.

“I’m interested in people who I have nothing to do with, just because they’re another life that’s living at the same time that I am,” says Bierman. “I want some reason to collaborate and to know them. Creating something of appeal and having people gravitate towards me is the most wonderful thing in the world.”

Beyond the floppy ears and their adorable furry faces, Bierman says she sees her project as a metaphor for many human experiences.

“You want something very badly and think about it all the time and instead of an actual object in front of you, it becomes this grand vision in your mind,” says Bierman. “Once you encounter it in real life, and can have it, it doesn’t match the image that you created in your head.”

Bierman’s fascination with bunnies has been a long and dedicated one.

As a child her favorite stuffed animal was a bunny and her favorite book was “The Runaway Bunny” by Margaret Wise Brown. But growing up in New York City she only saw them in pet stores or the zoo.

Soon after arriving at Brandeis three years ago, she noticed the campus was covered with bunnies at night. Their presence inspired several of her woodblock prints and sculptures because, she says, through her art she can capture them and isolate their elusiveness to her precise aesthetic specifications.

 “When I began keeping late hours at the art studio, bunnies sort of paved the way back to my dorm,” says Bierman. “I really liked seeing them and felt like they were good omens.”

The idea for the outdoor installation began one afternoon as she was sitting in the library’s new café looking out the window, imagining how people might react if bunnies were everywhere.

She began with a photo, made multiple color copies, mastered using a band saw, cut and adhered faux fur around the perimeter of the wood and researched the best waterproofing techniques for the finished products.

The installation was created for her junior project. Bierman will be studying in London next semester at the Slade School, beginning in January, and says she felt she wanted to prepare for an intensive independent studio process.

In terms of her career goals, Bierman says she doesn’t see herself as a fulltime studio artist, trying to sell her work or making gallery exhibitions. She either wants to pursue visual merchandising, such as store window design, or something in the field of preservation or conservation.

Last summer Bierman spent time in Poland helping to paint a replica of a synagogue that was destroyed during the Holocaust. She did extensive research and unearthed texts from before the synagogue was destroyed. By recovering this information she was able to paint letters on to the vaulted ceilings more accurately.

“I really liked being part of a project that was way bigger than myself,” said Bierman, “one that started way before I came on board, and will continue long after I have left.”

Categories: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Student Life

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