What if you could grow your own house? That mind-boggling idea was first explored by artist and architect Dan ZanFagna decades ago. Mark Sloan, executive director at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, says a persistent concern and idea of ZanFagna's over the course of his long and very interesting career was that humankind is living in disharmony with the environment. "He wanted to create something that would allow us to sustain ourselves," Sloan says. By studying patterns that develop in nature, ancient civilizations like the Mayans and the Egyptians, and even insects like bees, he came to develop the idea of a "pulse dome," or a structure that was not just a shelter but a source of energy for the people living inside of it. Think about that concept for a second. What if, instead of greening our buildings and maximizing energy savings, we came up with a whole new approach to building that turned our homes into living, sustainable organisms?
ZanFagna retired to the Lowcountry several years ago, and during the move here his nephew and niece (Everett and Joanna White, who own an art gallery on Sullivan's) discovered boxes and boxes and boxes of notebooks, artworks, and even pieces that had been displayed in the Whitney Museum among ZanFagna's things. They soon realized that they had quite a collection on their hands. They approached Sloan to see if he was interested in an exhibit; his interest was particularly piqued by the pulse domes. In addition to hundreds of notebooks exploring his ideas, ZanFagna accumulated sketches, drawings, collages, photographs, writings, and 3-D models of his pulse domes, more than 50 of which will be on exhibit at the Halsey this fall. It'll be a fascinating look into the brilliant mind of a man who turned his back on the fame and fickleness of the art world and sidestepped into architecture where he could spend his time wrestling with big ideas. The exhibit will include a film component and some sort of built aspect that will come from David Pastre's class at the Clemson Architecture School. What that will be has yet to be determined, but it's just another reason this exhibit should be particularly interesting.