From a distance, the white on white artwork called "Pile" that hangs on the right wall as soon as you enter the Quirk hotel in Richmond seems like a panel of over-sized feathers, a swirl of heavily texturized foam, or even giant seeds whirling around in concentric circles.
The maelstrom nature of the piece by Richmond-resident Susie Ganch is intentional. She explains to me that the work is “part of a series of tapestries depicting different oceanic current systems made from used coffee lids and trash bags.” The one at Quirk specifically depict the currents of the Triangle Trade Routes in the Atlantic that helped Richmond become the powerful city it has been and is today.
“The piece is meant to be beautiful on the one hand, but ugly as well, just like our history,” she explains.
To use coffee lids (collected patiently from local coffee shops around town) adds a different layer to the metaphor of the work, and a dimension of community participation. Ganch tells me that the piece itself took months to make but the collection of the lids took much longer.
The piece fits like a glove in the art-driven hotel, which also has unique papier-maché art on each floor. You almost want to reach into the artwork, grab a coffee lid, and put it on the hotel-brewed cup your barista will make you right in the lobby.
Now, I can drink to that!