"A Little Courage @ The "Big Bambú"
I'm walking on a pile of pick-up sticks tied together with string, and I'm looking down at my fly-ass kicks, wondering how these people ever convinced me to sign a waiver for this.
Let me back it up.
A few weeks ago, I overheard a woman on the MetroRail saying, "Girl! You know they make you sign a waiver, right? I ain't 'bout that life!" At that point, I was all ears because I AM about that life. I am ALL about that #WAIVERLIFE 🙌! So, I Googled said waiver, and it was for an art exhibit called "Big Bambú." I also read that rubber, closed-toe shoes were required, and I thought about my JJ Watt II TR's by Reebok in Rockets RED. They've got MAJOR H-Town swag, excellent grip, AND they're super comfy.
(click photo to view the product page)
My waiver-signing adventure started with a casual stroll through the sculpture garden, which sits across the street from the Museum of Fine Arts Houston(MFAH). I Snapchatted for a bit in front of the new "Houston Bean."
FUN FACT: There's another wildly popular Houston Bean, and HE is actually a person, not food...or a sculpture. Check him out @outspokenbean on Instagram.
A few minutes and $18 later, I was "Tip-Toein in my JJ's" (Shoutout to Riff Raff😂) on the first floor of Cullinan Hall inside the MFAH. I spent some time weaving in and out of dozens of bamboo poles like I was a happy little swagged-out panda. It was whimsical. But then, it was time for me to go upstairs and truly immerse myself in the exhibit.
Big Bambú is a traveling installation that's been erected in multiple cities, including Rome, Japan, and Copenhagen. Each one has had a one-of-a-kind design, completely made of bamboo sticks, but the exhibition in Houston is the first-and-only structure built indoors. It's also the only one with a 2nd-floor entrance, which makes the experience less of a climb-up-and-down, and more of a surf-across-and-through the wave of bamboo.
When I stepped out onto the bamboo bridge, questions flew through my head: Is this gonna hold me up? Are these ropes even tied right? Did I really sign a dang waiver? To be honest, I had a death grip on that bamboo handrail, which is weird for me. I'm usually not afraid of heights, but it was unusual standing on an uneven surface. I was kind of expecting the poles to start rolling up under my feet, and I pictured myself running like Wile E. Coyote standing on a log out in the middle of a lake.
That's when I realized something: These people really had me out here, walking on a giant pile of pick-up sticks tied together with some strings. And I was basically another stick up there, 30 feet in the air, looking down at my fly-ass kicks, wondering if a fall from this height would break my neck. 🤔 I kept on walking.
Sure, the first few steps were a little uneasy, but I figured if JJ Watt can do a 61-inch box jump, then surely I can manage a 30-foot bamboo balance in these super-sweet sneaks of mine. My excitement was back in full effect. I got halfway across the bridge and started to ask myself different questions, like: I wonder how long this took to build. How many bamboo sticks are in here? How did they come up with this idea? I was highly intrigued.
I later learned that the creators, twin brothers Mike and Doub Starn, hired a team of 15 experienced artists and climbers, including four local rock climbers, to create the exhibit. They connected over 3,000 bamboo poles by hand, over the course of a month.
As a visitor, the experience is hard to explain. As soon as you cross the bridge and enter the actual bamboo forest, you're completely immersed in a tangle of tiny tree trunks. An intricately woven web of curiosity winds you into its wavy core as you pass through tightly-tied bamboo joints, wrought with knots and special, hand-crafted photo ops. *NO spoilers* Then, you're back on the first floor, where you began.
It's amazing how such chaos can be so well-organized and surprisingly sturdy, especially when it's essentially just sticks and rope. According to the creators, that's kind of the point. Big Bambú represents the "invisible structure of life," the random and natural connections that span across the world. The artists wanted to demonstrate this interconnectivity through the bamboo structure itself as well as the space in which it's housed. They constructed everything by hand, live-streamed the entire process online, and purposefully incorporated the first and second floors of the main hall, utilizing the extra space afforded by the high ceilings.
That's what makes the whole exhibit so special: its wacky simplicity. And in a city like Houston, it's a fantastic fit, especially during this ridiculously hot summer.
Grab your tickets while you still can! The exhibition runs through September 3, 2018.
(peep the teaser vid below)
Share with your bamboo buddy!
Keep it fresh, yall.
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