Press Release

Make a Wish


Wave Hill

Sun Room Project Space

Bronx, New York

July 3 – August 22, 2010

Daniel A. Bruce’s interactive sculptural installation, Make a Wish, takes inspiration from Wave Hill’s Aquatic Garden. The pool and its flora are re-imagined as a modern coin-operated wishing well replete with Nymphyeae ‘Marliacea Chromotella’ (hardy water lily cultivar) fabricated out of neon. Abandoned tires, collected from the Long Island City area around the artist’s studio, have been repurposed to geometrically construct the well’s perimeter. The neon water lilies function as signage, using the vocabulary of consumerism to mimic the allure of the flower in its natural setting.

Make a Wish utilizes the tradition and folk-lore of the wishing-well to devise an opportunity for viewer interaction. Rather than tossing a coin into the well to request what he calls “the gift of a wish from the Gods” Bruce invites visitors to place a quarter into a coin-operated mechanism. This transaction activates their wish and temporarily illuminates the neon, creating a distinct and startling change in the work’s appearance. By introducing a financial transaction into the viewing process, the artist points to the political and economic complexity inherent in contemporary society’s contradictory relationship with the natural world. Make a Wish is also aligned with what the artist terms a ‘bumpkin aesthetic’—a combination of the awkward and unsophisticated with the ideals of artistic validity. By conjuring both high and low cultural practices, he reinforces elements of ambiguity and heterogeneity in his work. The industrial presence of the piece, and its incongruous context within the Sun Porch, strengthens this logic of dualism.

Daniel A. Bruce’s work has been exhibited with Dean Project, Long Island City, NY; Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton, NJ; The Ice Box at Crane Arts, Philadelphia, PA; Flux Gallery, Philadelphia, PA; Pratt at Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, Utica, NY; Annina Nosei Gallery, New York, NY; and the Museum of Luminous Phenomenon, Alfred, NY. He was a 2001 Artist in Residence at Sculpture Space Inc., Utica, NY. Bruce received his MFA from Tyler School of Art, Elkins Park, PA; and his BFA from Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI, after transferring from Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, Utica, NY.

Make a Wish
neon, used tires, coin operated mechanism, plastic, magnetic transformers
5' H x 12' W x 12' D
Make a Wish (detail showing viewer participation)
color photograph, plexiglas, aluminum
20" H x 20" W