By Elizabeth Preske
May 01, 2019
Credit: Courtesy of John Grade studio

In the middle of an Italian forest hovers a chandelier made out of thousands of drops of rain.

Of course, it's not actually a chandelier. Rather, it's an inventive sculpture at Arte Sella, an open air museum in Borgo Valsugana. The museum features over 30 works of art inspired by the natural Alpine setting — and created from local materials like stones, leaves, and twigs.

According to Colossal, the chandelier-like piece was borne out of American artist John Grade's study of Arte Sella's ecosystem.

“I became most interested in the way rain falls through this grove of trees, the canopy delaying the droplet’s journey to the ground as well as how quiet and sheltered the forest was during a heavy rain,” Grade told Colossal.

Credit: Courtesy of John Grade studio

The sculpture, "Reservoir," consists of five thousand pouches, each attached to marine nets that hang from tree trunks. To produce the pouches, Grade created casts of ten people’s hands, cupped together to give the pouches their droplet-like shape.

Credit: Courtesy of John Grade studio

This shape is more pronounced when it rains or snows. As the pouches collect precipitation, the weight of the sculpture pulls it down towards the forest floor. The 65-pound art piece can hold over 930 pounds of rainwater, although springs prevent it from getting any lower than 10 feet above the ground.

"Reservoir" rises back up when the precipitation evaporates, providing the surrounding vegetation a source of water to draw from.

Credit: Courtesy of John Grade studio

For "Reservoir’s" inauguration at Arte Sella in 2018, dance artist Andrea Rampazzo teamed up with Grade to choreograph a performance under the installation. “I wanted to make a sculpture that responded to the rain directly as well as a sculpture that responded to people,” said Grade.

During the performance, four dancers controlled the sculpture’s movement by pulling and releasing cables that connected "Reservoir" to the surrounding pine trees. “Now we can watch the sculpture collect and release and move over the seasons and build upon those nuances to create a second installation,” Grade said. The artist says that wind may inspire his next piece.