Installation Day

How do we hang this thing? Develop a process. Coordinate a team. Keep a schedule.
With your rigging system in place, hanging the art is a matter of securing it to the hardware and hoisting it into position. The amount of time and effort will depend on the weight, size, and number of pieces being installed, as well as the overall complexity of the art.  Lifting each piece to the right position will take time; a few spotters located in key locations around the church can help guide the process.

Pentecost. First Presbyterian Church. Photo: Dave Teich
Pentecost. First Presbyterian Church. Photo: Dave Teich

As with all beginnings, learning to install liturgical artwork will take time and patience. “The first year was the hardest as we knew very little about what to expect and had to create everything from scratch” says Dave Teich of First Presbyterian Church.[43] Once the rigging hardware and cables were in place, subsequent installations became much easier.

The beauty of following the model of a church with an established Art & Environment committee is being able to learn from their tried and true techniques. The team at First Presbyterian Church is led by three core members and a committee of talented individuals skilled in fine and textile arts, mechanical systems, painting, and woodworking. They meet weekly to plan and craft art for worship, sometimes taking work home with them. When it’s time to install the art, it is done by the members during regular workshop hours and on additional scheduled workdays as needed.

Space above sanctuary at First Presbyterian Church. Photo: Dave Teich
Space above sanctuary at First Presbyterian Church. Photo: Dave Teich

Tips on getting up there:

First Presbyterian Church uses an extension ladder and a 30′ extension pole with an assortment of attachments for placing and hanging items.  They also have installed an extensive infrastructure of wires, pulleys, and magnetic attachments that facilitate easy installation. It also helps that the church has an accessible space above the sanctuary ceiling that allows access, [1] which is a rarity in most churches.

Keep some magnets on hand: For very light weight installations in areas where metal surfaces exist, First Presbyterian Church recommends using magnets. Attach the magnet to the leading edge of the object to be hung, by sewing it into a seam for example, and lift it using an extension rod or other means onto the magnetic surface.[2] Always test the magnetic strength first. For more creative ideas on using common items for installation, see Dave Petrenka’s Notebook.

[1] Dave Teich, in discussion with, and e-mail message to author, April, 2014.

[2] First Presbyterian Church team, in discussion with the author, April 2014 (see also Dave Petrenka’s Notebook of Essential Art Installation Tips)