Ernesto Neto’s Houston Installation Winds Visitors Through Nature
Building on his grandmother’s craft, Ernesto Neto’s Houston museum installation winds visitors through his version of the cycles of nature. “What inspires my work is both the spiritual and the material,” he says.
For his site-specific SunForceOceanLife at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto used Rhinoceros and Adobe Illustrator to conceive the installation, its shape and height informed by the hall’s architecture, designed in 1958 by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Photography courtesy of Ernesto Neto and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
To choose the colors—ultimately nature-inspired yellows, oranges, reds, and greens—Neto referred to a collection of threads stored in his Rio de Janeiro studio. Photography courtesy of Ernesto Neto and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
Polymer string was hand-crocheted into small segments by Neto and his team, including three of his relatives, often working at their homes due to the pandemic. Photography courtesy of Ernesto Neto and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
A labor-intensive process using fingers instead of needles that was developed by Neto allows for larger apertures than standard crocheting. Photography courtesy of Ernesto Neto and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
He worked in his studio on larger segments that would ultimately be sewn together. Photography courtesy of Ernesto Neto and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
The elements were shipped to Texas, where small plastic balls were inserted into the crocheted meshes to anchor and provide a walking surface through the installation, and then museum workers on scaffolds and hydraulic lifts hung it from crocheted cables affixed to a metal ceiling frame. Photography by Will Michels.
Intended to evoke the powers of nature that create life and drawing on the crocheting taught to Neto by his grandmother when he was an adult, SunForceOceanLife is an interactive installation. Photography by Albert Sanchez.
Masked and sock-footed museumgoers step on the balls, which are contained in crocheted tubes, and can grasp onto the handmade strands as they walk through. Photography by Thomas R. Dubrock.
Occupying all of the museum’s Cullinan Hall, the suspended labyrinth is on view
through September 26 and, at nearly 80 feet long, one of Neto’s largest crochet works to date. Photography by Will Michels.