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Otherworldly Balance: Kelli Anderson's Multi-Dimensional Mobiles

Planetary Mobile by Kelli Anderson
24" x 36" ($375)

Today’s edition is a grand finale of sorts… our last big offering that was planned with holiday giving in mind, and the very last Artist-Made edition we’ll release in 2017. It’s a special one. Created by Kelli Anderson, an artist I’ve been working with for well over a decade now, this entirely handmade and even-more genius than meets the eye Planetary Mobile is a feat of engineering—and maybe just a little bit of magic...

Kelli’s known in my household as the “paper whisperer” for the ingenuous creations she coaxes from such a humble, ubiquitous material. She’s made cameras and records and planetariums, the latter being the titular object of her brilliant bible of papermade curiosities, the much-acclaimed This Book is A Planetarium, all of which unfurl with a sort of deceptive ease. I showed off the planetarium to a friend last night, who marveled at the elegance as its indigo dome arose from within the book's pages, and then gasped with joy as I tucked my phone into its center, lighting my living room ceiling up with Dippers, Big and Little. Just like that!

The truth is, of course, that there’s no “just like that” about it. Kelli labors for days and days worth of hours to perfect her creations, and would likely fuss with them forever were it not for real-world deadlines. (And almost always persists well past them!) Those of us lucky enough to work closely with her have learned that the tinkering is integral to the process, and await her irregular dispatches of progress—delivered via text or email or Instagram DM, often accompanied by a sketch or quick video—with a mix of exasperation and bafflement that almost always gives way to awe at both the thoroughness of her efforts and the genius of their results.

Planetary Mobile by Kelli Anderson

Today’s edition is made of different things—carbon fiber, wood and wire—but it is very close kin to her paper projects. Once installed, its languorous motion seems unstudied, aimless and yet (once again!) elegant, but an enormous amount of effort has gone into making it so. As Kelli writes, the “structure of the Planetary Mobiles allows pairs of wooden spheres to orbit a central, invisible line—similar to how the planets in our solar system orbit the Sun. To work, each sphere must be perfectly weighted to both counterbalance its partner and to travel its orbit on a flat plane.”

Kelli has achieved this balance via many coats of paint—no, for real! paint—and every aspect of the paint has been considered carefully… the color, the sheen, the weight, and how it interacts with the other components and colors. The resulting Planetary Mobile is a thing whose beauty is derived from both the ingenuity of the mind that created it and the endless unpredictability of the forces of the physical world.

With art for everyone,
Jen Bekman