Buoyant Force is a 50-foot steel sculpture by Sue Wrbican inspired by the paintings of American Surrealist Kay Sage (b. 1898, Albany, New York; d. 1963, Woodbury, Connecticut). Sage, who lived in the shadow of her husband, the surrealist Yves Tanguy, is now recognized for her paintings of scaffolded structures and furled fabric in desolate landscapes. GRACE organized the first comprehensive exhibition of Wrbican’s work, entitled Well Past the Echo, in Fall 2017. The exhibition featured photography, maquettes of Sage-inspired structures, and a site-specific installation. It was featured in The Washington Post and East City Art. Based on the success of the exhibition, GRACE has commissioned Wrbican to realize one of her structures at full-size in Reston Town Square Park. 

Image credit: Sue WrbicanDue East, Spring 2020, 2020

In 2014 Wrbican presented her installation and lecture “Continue the Temporary and It Becomes Forever” at the Zizek Studies conference at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Art, Architecture, and Planning. In 2015 her work The Eventual Outcome of an Instant was constructed at the Seligmann Center in Sugar Loaf, NY. She has held residencies at the Robert Rauschenberg Residency in Captiva, Florida; Kala Art Institute in Berkeley, California; The Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, Florida; and STUD Residency in Catlett, Virginia. She is a founding member of the Floating Lab Collective whose projects have been exhibited widely in venues such as ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany and the Nathan Cummings Foundation, NYC, NY. Her video Back Roof is part of Miranda July’s Joanie 4 Jackie Archive at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, CA.

Wrbican is an Associate Professor and Director of Photography at the School of Art at George Mason University and her education includes an MFA in Photography from the Rhode Island School of Design and BA in English Writing with a concentration in poetry from the University of Pittsburgh.

Photographs courtesy of Sue Wrbican.

The Buoyant Oracle – A Sculpture That Talks Back

The Buoyant Oracle is a playful interactive feature that provides the opportunity to chat with Buoyant Force. Created by the Playful City Lab at American University led by Benjamin Stokes, Hazel Arroyo, Chris Karr, and Mitchell Loewen in collaboration with Sue Wrbican and GRACE, the installation features an evolving cast of guest oracles and narratives over the next five years.

The interactive feature is activated by using your phone to scan the on-site QR code. Once activated, in a conversational mode, the sculpture sends participants annotated photographs similar to polaroids that reveal the layered history, artist philosophy and production process behind the monumental artwork. Connected to the surrealist tradition of the sculpture, the participant may encounter an Oracle when engaging with the feature that will pull different “readings” of paired poetry and remixed images of the sculpture. The goal, with an eye to social distancing, is to provide a light-hearted layer of engagement to connect during this unique time with the whimsical nature of GRACE’s largest installation to date.

As a design project, the Buoyant Oracle explores how digital modes can strengthen the connection to place, borrowing concepts from game design such as: offering choices, cultivating playful participation, and embracing unpredictability that results in each participant having a unique experience of their own. The experience only requires a mobile phone — no fancy apps or even a data plan are needed. Try it yourself by visiting the sculpture in-person at Reston Town Square Park and look for the blue sign with a speech bubble located next to the sculpture! Share your experience with us on social media by tagging @restonarts and #BuoyantOracle!


In Conversation: Lily Siegel and Sue Wrbican on Buoyant Force


Bouyant Force featured on WETA 
Janis Goodman and Peter Winant join Robert Aubry Davis to discuss the Buoyant Force on WETA Around Town.


GRACE is pleased to launch the Buoyant Force fundraising initiative offering the opportunity to collect a special, numbered, limited-edition print signed by the artist, Sue Wrbican. Find out more HERE.


Invest in projects that bring us together, help us enrich the community, and #MakeArtHappen! Buoyant Force will activate Reston Town Square Park and engage the community through events and programming that are free and open to the public.


Thank you to our generous donors:

Romeo Alaeff
Marshall Bishop
Julie Caldwell
Catherine Day
Leila Gordon
Robert Goudie
Jennifer Kelly
Melissa Koskovich
Roslyn Maholland
Benjamin Morse
Lizzi Pittman
William Reeder
Lisa Rosenstein
Justin Roykovich
Thomas Samartino
Scott Sizer
Helen & Joe Stiskal
The Tamarus
Nancy Wimberg
Ingrid Zodrow

This project would not be possible without the dedicated team of professionals who have donated their time and expertise.

Paul Agutter and Bryan Layman, ECS Mid-Atlantic
Doug Bond, MacMullan & Associates
Will Bowers, Arcwel Metal Fabricators
Geoff Lewis and Victoria Wyrick, Architecture Incorporated
Rob McLoughlin, Commercial Concrete
The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company
Howard Connelly Design
Harry Mayer

Generous support for this project has been provided by:


Additional support from: