Miami Art Week 2022: Suchi Reddy’s Ethereal “Shaped by Air” Collaboration With Lexus

On view at ICA, an immersive installation that's informed by movement, emotion and the environment

Mist, leaves, sunlight and shadows all play intrinsic roles in artist and architect Suchi Reddy’s latest work, unveiled today at ICA Miami. While they might not be elements often conjured up when thinking about cars, the project is a collaboration between Reddy (along with her NYC-based studio Reddymade Architecture and Design) and Japanese carmaker Lexus. Informed by movement and emotion, the immersive work—called “Shaped by Air”—is one that Reddy hopes will evoke a reminder of just how enmeshed we are with our environment. “We are one and the same,” Reddy says. “I wanted to create a sense of oneness with our surroundings. I want people to feel a sense of oneness with their environment, and discovery.”

When approached by the car brand to work on an installation inspired by their next-generation Electrified Sport, Reddy looked into the brand’s ethos and decided it was a great fit for collaboration. “Lexus has supported the arts, they are interested in craftsmanship, their history of having takumi masters on their assembly line, and their various commitments to sustainability—it felt like the right ethos,” she tells us. When thinking about the project, to envision the vehicle in her own way, she “decided it had to be about how the car and the environment work together.” It’s an approach that reflects Reddy’s work and interest in neuroaesthetics. “The environment impacts us and we impact the environment. I don’t think design really looks at that in that way; generally speaking it’s usually a one-sided conversation about what we are doing to the environment, never what the environment does to us.” With that front of mind, Reddy embarked on a nature-inspired interpretation of the car as only she can.

The concept centers on nature and the environment, as does the actual installation itself, which is on view in ICA Miami’s sculpture garden. Reddy, who has created works outdoors before, found great inspiration in the garden. “I’ve been [featured] in a park and in Times Square, but an actual sculpture garden… When I came to this place, to be surrounded by sculptures by amazing artists was like, ‘Oh my God, what a beautiful place to be,'” she says. Here, the time of day and the weather will affect the work—the environment can change the piece at any given moment.

“You see how the sunlight plays on it and the shadows of the leaves on it,” Reddy continues. “There are so many layers and complexities, and it revolves around the fascination we have for nature. All of these things can create endless interest. It really felt like that was the perfect setting.”

Reddy had already been thinking about having mist play a role in the work when, during a conversation with the car’s designers, the team mentioned having it been shaped by air. “My immediate instinct was to work with the material that was maybe the polar opposite of what one might make a car out of, which is maybe the most evanescent thing,” Reddy says with a laugh. “I really wanted the mist to express the movement of the car, and we decided to work with mist and light, to really express that sense of movement.” Reddy’s piece mimics the form of the vehicle using actual hand-crafted car parts as well as pieces of powder-coated, post-consumer metal based on the clay models she saw at CALTY.

As always with Reddy’s creations, there’s an inherently human touch. This time it’s a visceral memory recreated. “It’s almost like bringing experiential images of being in a car—like seeing headlights in the fog—and being on the road together in a still installation. So I had to find the moving elements to do that.” For this, Reddy looked to handcrafted car parts and repurposed some for the artwork. These industrial pieces balance the mist, shadows and sunlight, to create a juxtaposition of materials, weights, shapes, and natural and human-made elements.

Now that “Shaped by Air” has been unveiled, Reddy has some distance from its inception, fabrication and installation, and is most excited about individual interactions with it. “It’s really beautiful to see how people react to it and they often see things that I don’t. I’m curious,” she tells us says (adding that spiders have already made it their home, which she is thrilled about). “Every time I do something interactive, it’s very humbling. It’s humbling to see how people react to the sense of wonder and discovery, which is something that I try to explore in pretty much everything that I do. It’s really beautiful when I see people feeling that, and it opens avenues for me to explore next time.”

Images by Steve Benisty, courtesy of Lexus