Behind the Scenes @ Henry: Getting Wild

There is something wild happening in the James Turrell Skyspace “Light Reignwhere conversations and art invite participants to transform. Formulary for a New Wildness is a collaboration between self and nature where Susan Robb invites you to join artist Eric Olson and psychotherapist Nicole Wiggins for 90-minutes of group exploration into what it means to be wild within ourselves and within contemporary culture.

We caught up with Eric Olson after the first of two sessions they are holding at the Henry.

The first session happened on May 10th, can you tell us some highlights?

The biggest highlight was the participants! Everyone was willing to really engage with and open up to each other. We explored a number of topics including what we mean when we say, “not in your wildest dreams,” and the element of danger in wildness. One person left me a note saying, “grief is wild and dangerous.

Photo courtesy
Photo courtesy Eric Olson

We were so wrapped up in conversation that the session flew by, leaving me excited and anxious to continue the exploration in the coming weeks.

What is it about the attribute “wild” that you want to share with participants?

A few things often come to mind when we first hear the word wild: nature, dreams, sexual inhibitions, uncharted territory. Our day-to-day lives tend to suppress the innate “wildness” within each of us. By diving deeper into personal definitions of the term, as well as our individual curiosities and fears, we hope to create a space that inspires adventuring into the wild. Whether that leads to being more open to connecting with new people or taking off for six months to walk the Pacific Coast Trail.

Where did you find your wild?

It started after finding myself in an unfamiliar place where everything I thought I wanted was nothing but illusion. From there, with lots of help, I began to build an emotional relationship with myself. It is a work in progress and probably always will be.

How did you meet your event partners?

I met Susan Robb when I participated in her project The Long Walk. We started to get to know each other better on the rolling hills of the Tolt Pipeline Trail while discussing Roland Barthes’ essay The Death of the Author and how it can relate to participatory art. The Formulary started brewing one afternoon while we were catching up with each other, and shortly thereafter, Susan reached out to psychotherapist Nicole Wiggins about co-hosting the sessions.

Why the James Turell Skyspace for Formulary?

 Light Reign is a perfect venue for the project.  The space frames the sky in a way that forces the viewer to acknowledge its ever-present wildness.  It also puts participants in a safe and sacred space for contemplation.

James Turrell. Light Reign (Interior detail).

This is Seattle and we are always curious, how do you like your coffee?

I take it black — like my heart — unless I end up at Starbucks where I have been known to order a triple tall vanilla soy latte.

Thank you for sharing this experience with the Henry. Any parting words?

We all have something to gain by embracing wildness in ourselves and our everyday lives.

Photo courtesy Eric Olson
Photo courtesy Eric Olson



The Formulary will continue at other venues, including the Frye Art Museum,  throughout the summer. Please visit for a complete schedule and more information on the project.

Why is the Henry staff in Wolf masks? Find out more at Photo by Dawn Keenen
Why are these Henry staffers in wolf masks? Find out more at
Photo by Dawn Keenen

Susan Robb’s work is an ongoing investigation of people, place, and our search for utopia. It often takes its form as temporary, site-responsive, and socially-engaged projects. These projects include The Long Walk, ONN/OF “a light festival”, Parking Squid, Sleeper Cell Training Camp, and Warmth Giant Black Toobs. Robb’s work has been funded by a Pollack Krasner Foundation Grant, two Artist Trust Fellowships, a Stranger Genius Award, a 4Culture Special Projects Grant, and the City of Seattle’s Office of Arts and Culture. In 2013 she received a Creative Capital grant to produce Wild Times. Her work has been collected and shown nationally and internationally.

Nicole Wiggins holds an MS in Communicative Disorders from California State University Northridge, an MA in Existential Phenomenological Psychology from Seattle University, a graduate certificate from University of Washington in Infant Mental Health, and is currently in Psychoanalytic Training at Northwestern Psychoanalytic Society and Institute.

Eric Olson is an artist and engineer who currently lives and works in Seattle, WA. He earned a BS in computer science from Seattle University in 2004 and studied human computer interaction at Columbia University. His recent project SEAWORTHY is an artist-run space dedicated to creative practices that value collaboration, experimentation, and social engagement. Through projects, discourse and exhibitions, SEAWORTHY nurtures emerging artists and provide an environment to incubate new ideas.

One thought on “Behind the Scenes @ Henry: Getting Wild

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s