Deep Wounds (2006; 2015)

Deep Wounds

Deep Wounds, Memorial Hall, 2006

Commissioned by the OFA, the large-scale, site-specific installation by artist Brian Knep explores universal themes of loss and healing in the aftermath of conflict. It was originally commissioned and presented in 2006 and was re-mounted April 4-May7, 2015 as part of the Harvard Civil War Project and coincided with the Harvard ARTS FIRST festival.

With names inscribed on its marble walls, the transept at Memorial Hall honors Harvard alumni who died in the Civil War while fighting for the Union. Using computer-generated projection technology, Deep Wounds uses this historic space to explore the universal challenge of unfinished healing and reconciliation, among enemies formerly bound by the ties of friendship, family, or shared experience.

Commissioned and presented by the OFA Public Art Program. 

“Slavery, Dissent, Reconciliation: Harvard Histories” Recorded: Monday, April 6, 2015

About Deep Wounds

Deep Wounds was commissioned and initially presented in 2006 as part of groundbreaking partnership between the Office for the Arts and Department of Systems Biology (DSB), Harvard Medical School, which brought artist Brian Knep to campus to explore the intersections of art, science and technology. The project won awards from Ars Electronica, the International Association of Art Critics, and Americans for the Arts, who selected it as one of the best public-art projects of the year. It also traveled to Ron Feldman Gallery, NY, and The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, CT.  

In 2015, we revisited Deep Wounds, examining its powerful evocation of conflict, loss, and healing in conjunction with the Harvard Civil War Project, a collaboration of over ten Harvard-affiliated departments convened by the Office for the Arts. The installation drew on the history and architecture of Memorial Hall—built to honor Harvard alumni who died in the Civil War while fighting for the Union—to create a moving experience of lost relationship.  

The artwork is a starting point for considering complex and difficult issues surrounding the project of reconciliation, in relation to the Civil War and to the universal challenges of conflict and transgression. Among these, we may question: How do we construct and use memory? What does reconciliation demand of us? Who bears the burden of reconciliation? And beyond reconciliation, what must be done to attain justice and healing?

About the Artist

Brian Knep is a media artist whose works range from large-scale interactive installations to microscopic sculptures for nematodes. He was the first artist-in-residence at Harvard Medical School, working side-by-side with scientists, using their tools and techniques to explore alternative meanings and ways of connecting to the world. Knep’s Deep Wounds, commissioned by the Office for the Arts at Harvard University, has won awards from Ars Electronica, the International Association of Art Critics, and Americans for the Arts, who selected it as one of the best public-art projects of 2007. His work has also been shown at the Denver Art Museum, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the RISD Museum, the Aldrich Center for Contemporary Art, and others; and he has grants and awards from Creative Capital, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the LEF Foundation, among others.

Knep holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Computer Science and a Master’s degree in Computer Science, both from Brown University. He also studied ceramics at the Ceramics Studio, Office for the Arts at Harvard, and glass blowing at Avon and Diablo Glass. Early in his career he worked as a Senior Software Engineer at Industrial Light & Magic, working on films such as Jurassic Park, Mission Impossible, and Star Trek: Generations. While there, he developed tools including two for which he and three others were awarded technical Academy Awards. Knep also helped found Nearlife, a high-end design and technology company, creating interactive experiences for science and children’s museums. His publications have appeared in computer graphics and computer-human interaction journals.

Knep lives and works in Boston and is represented by Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, NY, NY.