Carnegie Mellon University sophomore spins wool for 28 consecutive hours
This spinning performance lasted 28 hours, though not on a stationary bike.
Isabel “Iz” Horgan, a sophomore at Carnegie Mellon University, started spinning wool at 5 p.m. Friday at the student-run Frame Gallery on Forbes Avenue. She spun and spun until 9 p.m. Saturday.
By the end, she had spun 300 yards of two-ply yarn using her mother’s wheel.
The arts major from Rural Valley, Armstrong County, used wool from her family’s flock of 20. Pieces of her artwork hung on the wall for an exhibition. In an adjacent room, a video played of Horgan and her mother Jodi shearing a sheep.
The family has Icelandic and Shetland sheep.
“Wool is very utilitarian,” Horgan said. “Wool is precious. Sheep don’t like to be sheered but you have to shear them and they feel better after they are sheared.”
Horgan said she chose to attempt the feat because she grew up around animals on her family farm where they breed and care for the sheep.
Why 28 hours? Horgan said she liked that it was an unconventional amount of time for a challenge.
“It might have been an absurd thing to do for 28 hours, but I decided to engage with my process and help people understand the process of sheep.”
She allowed herself bathroom breaks every six to eight hours. She was confident she could stay awake.
Much of her recent artwork has centered on deconstructing and reconstructing sheep.
“I am interested in the sheep as a representation of something that is both consuming and producing,” she said.
Horgan said attending a technical university as an artist is interesting.
“The art school is a superior school than other art schools,” she said. “The faculty is amazing. As an artist you have to advocate for yourself and put yourself out there.”
She plans to use the spun wool for the designs for the university’s Lunar Gala coming up in February. It is Carnegie Mellon’s student fashion show.
She and her brother Sam will co-host an exhibit from 6 to 9 p.m. Nov. 8 and 1 to 6 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Frame Gallery.
The name of the sheep she used the wool from is Remy, a 1-year-old Shetland with soft baby hair.
While she was spinning she listened to music from the soundtrack of the film “O Brother, Where Art Thou.”
She sat near the gallery’s front window.
Isabel and her mother talked about doing a similar performance, but not for 28 hours, Jodi Horgan said.
“I thought it was a little bit crazy when she told me she was going to do this,” Jodi Horgan said. “When she puts her mind to do something she does it.”
Isabel Horgan’s friend Emmett Donlon, a junior art major from New Hampshire stopped at 9 p.m. Friday and 2:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday.
“I also do performance art and I thought this was really interesting,” Donlon said. “This form or art teaches you about the mind and the body. It’s important to have support for this kind of undertaking, and I wanted to support her.”
Isabel Horgan said it felt bittersweet after it was done.
“It’s been such a strange experience in ways I didn’t expect,” she said.”I was interacting with people through the window. I wondered what people who walked by thought about me. Some stopped in and we had wonderful conversations. Some were strangers, some acquaintances and others friends and family. Some people waved from buses.”
She estimated 60 to 70 people stopped in.
Her father Matt stayed with her from 1 to 6 a.m. Saturday.
“It would have been a totally different performance if I had done it in a room alone,” she said.
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact JoAnne at 412-320-7889, [email protected] or via Twitter .