the original proposal

putting to the center of the earth
a 337 project miniature golf proposal
submitted by davina pallone, september 15, 2009

I love putting. My childhood summers were spent kicking around the putting greens on my grandparent’s small, 18 hole golf course in central Florida. Recently, I’ve played miniature golf as far east as St. Croix and as far west as Santa Cruz, as well as in between, online, and on Wii. I love fake grass, I love carpets and textiles, and I love interactive art — so when I heard about the 337 Project’s Mini Golf exhibition, there was no question that I became excited about the possibilities.

A recurring theme in my work is how we study and decipher nature using science and technology, but are taught to understand our place in relation to nature via cultural structures and mythologies. I create mythic representations of a domesticated nature with references to various scientific and cultural symbols—core samples, shrines, molecules, test tubes, totems, toys. The use of common, familiar materials and patterns means each piece feels as safe, warm and welcoming as a living room or favorite sweater.

Modern miniature golf is a beautiful intersection of nature and culture. The first known putting course, the Himalayas, was created outdoors in late 19th century Scotland as a socially acceptable golf outlet for women. Thereafter, this accessible sport took hold of the public’s imagination, growing into the fake-landscaped, themed and obstacled, fun-filled and friendly competition of skill we all know and love today.

Since 2003, I have been interested in the impact art can have when taken off the gallery walls and made interactive and accessible to the public. Indoor meadows, knotted tangles of interactive yarn, outdoor fences woven with the help of schoolchildren — any way to engage the viewer in a tactile experience with art removes the barrier of untouchability, encourages community and fosters the imagination in ways we can’t possibly measure.

My recent foray into the world of weaving has me excited to pull this age-old craft (which would be fully acceptable for the female putters in late-19th century Scotland) into a fine art interpretation of a modern pop culture sport. The theme of my hole will be the layers of our planet (sky, surface, soil, rock and molten core). The Jules Verne-inspired title pulls in a classic sci-fi reference from 1864, three years prior to the construction of the Himalayas putting green.

description of the proposed hole
“Putting to the Center of the Earth” will be an approximately 97ft2, curvilinear, par 6 mini golf hole with a smooth, hand-woven fairway surface that uses color and abstract obstacles to representationally transport the player from the “surface” (tee) to the “core” (green) of our planet.
Players begin their journey by teeing off on a blue “sky,” working their way along the figure 8-shaped, 4′ wide fairway past green “meadow,” brown “earth” and gray “rock,” ending up on the red “core” green. Each section’s color will blend into the next section.

Obstacles encountered along the way are sloped fairway areas, fake holes, grasses, a bridge, piles of dirt, stalagmites, fireballs, a sand pit and cave lake. The ball will travel through a fire cave immediately before hitting the green.

I’d love to have my hole labeled as no.8 in reference to its layout, although it is not imperative to realizing my vision or theme.

materials and construction
The hole will be constructed of modular, marine-grade plywood platforms with permanently affixed, hand-woven surfaces. A 4″, shag rug border will run the entire outer perimeter of the hole.

The fairway will be woven in sections on a table loom. Durable wool or wool/nylon blend rug yarns will be used for warp. Linen yarns will be used for weft. The resulting surface will be a flat twill and will stand up well to traffic. Any slight irregularities in the weave will add to the unpredictable play of the hole.
All obstacles will be made of fiber, wire, fabric, found objects and other miscellany. Taller obstacles may be removable for easy transport.

Thank you for the opportunity to propose a hole for the 337 Project Miniature golf exhibition. I look forward to your decision, and to playing the entire course in February!

3 responses to this post.

  1. i agree with you about bringing the art out to the people. but i think for different reasons, living here in kuwait.

    we are so consumed by malls and restaurants that it is very difficult to lure the general populace to the very few galleries we have in this country. so i thought, why not bring the art to them, whether it’s a sculpture on the beach or some conceptual idea involving a famous kuwaiti landmark or SOMETHING. but that would all need government backing and they just don’t get it here. it’s very frustrating.


  2. it can be difficult here, too… there seem to be those who know and care about contemporary art, and then the larger majority who are either oblivious of it, scared of it, don’t feel that they “fit in” to the “art world,” or are simply already busy enough with their families, careers, and yes — malls and consumerism. it always kills me to see a store like the pottery barn selling mass-produced, no-artist-name-in-sight prints framed and ready to match their fall collection, all for a price that’s the same or more than the great, original art sold in local galleries by emerging artists with talent to spare.

    i think a lot of it has to do with the dearth of education kids receive about contemporary art. if they came out of high school with a modicum of understanding about where art is now and where it’s come from, do you think we’d see a greater respect and appreciation for art’s role in society in adults? i think about it a lot.

    the 337 project here in slc is actually a really great organization for educating kids, their parents and lots of people in general about contemporary art. i’m really excited to see the mini golf course in action! are there arts non-profits in kuwait that you think might like an idea like the mini golf course? it could even be displayed in a mall…. 🙂


  3. Posted by Bobbi on 03.01.2010 at 09:25

    As an artist, I have struggled with the idea of “not fitting in”, and wondering where my work does fit in the grand scheme of ART. I’m coming to terms finally with just accepting it for what it is and embracing that expression of myself.

    I love outdoor art, from graffiti to institutionally sanctioned installations, or even just the way people arrange objects in there own yards. And art you can interact with makes me giddy with pleasure!

    Your putting green sounds spectacular:) I can’t wait to see its progress.


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