The artist Rachel Hayes has finished installing her largest — and favorite — work to date: beneath the Dillingham Street Bridge now hang two brightly-colored inverse arches made entirely of nylon and sheer polyester.
Each one is about 60 feet wide and 100 feet long and each one weighs about 100 pounds.
Hayes' work is part of Artbeat, the annual arts festival. This year's Artbeat begins on March 13; its theme is "Arts on the Chattahoochee."
CSU's Hannah Israel, who has spearheaded the festival's public art component (including HENSE's Broadway mural), first contacted Hayes last year, through a mutual artist friend.
The scale and shape of the Dillingham Street Bridge excited Hayes. She said "Swing and Sway" wouldn't work on any other structure: "I think it’ll just make people look at this bridge and maybe realize the shape that it has and the scale of it ... I think it’ll just be a nice reflection of the weather in this city, the water."
The piece's many different colors — reds next to blues next to yellows next to blacks, made of two opaque panels and a see-through middle, all alternating — change with the sun. Its body billows with the wind: a strong gust pushes it up above the bridge's railing.
“It’s like a sculpture where I want someone to be able to view it from 360 (degrees)," Hayes said.
She's produced installations across the country: in Kansas City, Kan., Rosslyn, Va., and elsewhere. Her parents, husband and two young children travel with her almost always, helping her install each new work.
"Swing and Sway" was sewn in February at the home of Hayes' parents, where she keeps an industrial sewing machine. On Monday, they carefully unfolded each piece — "(My parents) have a small Toyota hybrid and (they) fit in their truck," Hayes said — dropped it from one side of the Dillingham Street Bridge and, with the help of a boat beneath them in the water, worked it underneath the bridge's arches and hoisted it with rope up the other end.
“You unroll it and it has this giant presence, and that’s what is so cool about fabric is you can make something so big and it can still have these tiny, intimate stitches everywhere that my and my mom’s hand did,” Hayes said.
Hayes said that "Swing and Sway" is, right now, her favorite installation. It will be on display at least through the end of Artbeat, on March 30, though she said it could withstand the elements for much longer.
“For a city to have faith in someone like me and this idea, it’s pretty incredible," she said, "to be so trusting and take such a risk — ‘OK, let’s try it!’"