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Wednesday February 8th

'Los Trompos' exhibit spins to a stop

 Architect Ignacio Cadena presents Los Trompos, pieces that have been on display since March, at Ackland Art Museum on Sept. 14.
Buy Photos Architect Ignacio Cadena presents Los Trompos, pieces that have been on display since March, at Ackland Art Museum on Sept. 14.

Mexican designers Héctor Esrawe and Ignacio Cadena see themselves more as “problem solvers” than designers. 

On Thursday, in a public talk held at the Ackland Art Museum in conjunction with the Arts Everywhere initiative, Cadena explained how the pair find inspiration in human interaction, nature and scientific innovation. They apply this inspiration to solve the problems of their clients. 

When working with the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia, Esrawe and Cadena noticed a problem that they wanted to solve. They saw how the majority of people were not engaging with the museum and the large outdoor space that was open to the public. 

“People were afraid of culture,” Cadena said. 

A solution for this problem? The colorful installation almost identical to that which has been on the front steps of the Ackland since the spring. 

Esrawe and Cadena spent about six months working on the first iteration of "Los Trompos," which consisted of thirty pieces, for the High Museum. 

The name itself, "Los Trompos," translates to “the spinning tops,” and the creators visualized the concept as a metaphor for a toy. Esrawe and Cadena drew inspiration for the colors from their bright Mexican culture. Now, they have shared their creation with different communities across the country. 

“They were conceptualized to be put in public space, not as objects of art, but as objects producing human interaction,” Cadena said. “In a way, it comes alive when you use it.” 

This may ring true, especially for UNC students who were present on campus when the installation arrived. For sophomore Hannah Levy, "Los Trompos" was an appreciated addition to campus life. 

“School is hard, classes are hard, that’s fine, but just take a minute and be a kid,” Levy said.

In addition to being part of the Arts Everywhere initiative, "Los Trompos" was brought to campus for a more specific purpose. 

“The installation was brought as a part of our effort to enliven the facade of the Ackland,”  said Allison Portnow Lathrop, public programs manager for the Ackland. 

In fact, the Ackland director, Katie Ziglar, has been implementing new initiatives at the museum to draw more public attention. The initiatives include giving a taste of the art outside the museum and featuring more works by living artists and designers.

Despite all the benefits that "Los Trompos" has brought to campus, the installation was always designed to be temporary. Students should plan to take a last swing before the pieces are removed Sunday.

If students enjoyed "Los Trompos," Cadena recommends that they continue interacting with the culture around them to continue solving the problem that Cadena and Esrawe witnessed firsthand in Atlanta. They suggest looking into some of their other cultural interactive works including "Mi Casa, Your Casa" and "La Musidora," which is currently at the Denver Art Museum in Denver, Colorado. 


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