Introduction: The Nomadic Labyrinth - a Public Art Project

The Nomadic Labyrinth is an installation and public-interactive-based project that consists of a large scale labyrinth-like sculpture of precisely cut carpet. This is an ongoing project with a series of installations that not only explore the integration of art and architecture, but serve as a walkable path for the public to explore as an urban meditation. The carpet pathway will be presented as an installation on the floor of a street, gallery, or alternative space. The public and community members are invited to explore, walk or meditate in the labyrinth and experience art as a transformative tool.

Inspired in an Arabic floral pattern, the carpets used in this design have been collected from several recycling companies in the Bay Area and they represent decorative classic western patterns. For the design of this labyrinth I was interested in the juxtaposition of two different cultural patterns – creating a movable, meditative environment where carpet from archetypical western places like the Ritz Carlton meet an inventive Arabesque.

The project launched from Saint Ignatius Church at University of San Francisco in September of 2013 and it traveled through the San Francisco Bay Area, including places like the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, Montalvo Arts center, YBCA and the De Young in San Francisco.

Step 1: Designing the Labyrinth

Use your favorite drawing tool to draw and design a Labyrinth. Remember the labyrinth is a unicursal path that leads you to the center. The Nomadic Labyrinth is inspired in the Classical Seven Circuit Labyrinth from Crete, Greece.

Step 2: Dividing the Design in Sections

In order to be able to handle the labyrinth easily we need to divide the design into parts or sections. The Nomadic Labyrinth will be 38' x 36, so I decided to divide it in 34 parts for easy transportation. Don't forget to number each section.

Step 3: Creating a Paper Pattern

Once you have the design divided into pieces you will need to scan it and project each part onto a piece of draft paper. Remember to include the numbers of each piece in the pattern.

Step 4: Assembling the Paper Pattern

Cut all the paper pieces and assemble them together to complete the labyrinth. Follow your original design and use the numbers of each section.

Step 5: Making Corrections

Some of the pieces may not fit perfectly into place. Make the necessary corrections in the paper for an exact assembling of all the pieces. Once you have made the final adjustments the pattern is ready to be transferred into the carpet.

Step 6: Transferring the Pattern to the Carpet

Take one pattern and transfer it to a piece of carpet. Place the front side of the pattern against the back side of the carpet. Use either chalk or sharpie to trace the outline.

Step 7: Cutting the Carpet

Using a good quality cutting knife, cut the outline of the pattern. Change the blades regularly for safe and easy performance.

Step 8: Cut All the Labyrinth Pieces

You have your first piece. Continue cutting all the pieces.

Step 9: Assemble the Pieces and Add Velcro

Once you have cut all the pieces assemble them together using velcro. Make sure they all fit correctly before installing the labyrinth on site. Make final corrections if needed.

Step 10: Installing the Labyrinth

Your labyrinth is ready to be installed either outdoor or indoor. I installed The Nomadic Labyrinth outdoor in the courtyard of a church in an university campus. This is a place with a lot of foot traffic. For the installation you will need:

The Labyrinth pieces
Your design sketch
Blue tape
Tape measure
Extra velcro
Cutting knife
A shoe rack
A table with a notebook and a pen

Step 11: Walking the Labyrinth

Your labyrinth is ready to be walked! You can place your shoes in the shoe rack. Let the public write their experience in the notebook by the table.