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How Daniel Oberti Brought ADHD to the Public Eye

Daniel started getting into sculpture seriously in high school. After dabbling in ceramics and various works of independent study, he was drawn to sculpture for the boldness in its ability to scale artistic inspiration to life size proportions. Torn between his love for art and dream of dentistry, Daniel ended up a presidential scholar for Sculpture at Wake Forest with a double major in Biology and Studio Art, with a concentration in sculpture… Oh! And a minor in Chemistry.

In addition to his studio art and biology related activities, Daniel is a student government committee co-chair for the physical planning committee, as well as on the tour guide exec board. When he’s not in the studio or in lab you can find him sipping on late night iced coffees in ZSR or enjoying BOB’s in the pit… with ketchup and jam, “Tell everyone the good word, you’ve got to have both.” He has an undying love for his hometown, Atlanta, GA, and is excited to be taking a printmaking class this semester, in which he plans to honor his family’s roots in a printing plate of his family’s hometown in Italy.

The specific course that provided the environment to bring “Disorderly Focus” into fruition? Public Art with Professor David Finn, who started his own public art career as a guerilla artist in Manhattan, NY, and is now the Head of the Public Art Commission in Winston Salem. “The course is only offered once every two years, but there’s still pieces up on campus from the 70’s and 90’s that are kept up by the Art Department,” said Oberti.

The whole course is structured around understanding installation art with the help of in depth group discussions, exchanging ideas with classmates, and critique from peers. In Oberti’s own words, “Public Art is all about turning a space into a place, and altering an environment in a way that changes people’s interactions with it by intervening with the accepted standard of existing order.”

In “Disorderly Focus,” Daniel sought to disrupt the perception of our campus library, a locus of concentration, with a public art sculpture that reflected his own experiences with ADHD since age 6. “I knew I wanted the piece to be inspired by my experiences. I started of wanting to focus on the testing process, but that progressed to a sculpture that embodies ADHD. I wanted it to be distracting and to disrupt people’s train of thought, like ADHD does for me.”

After refining his own ideas, another student helped him settle on the idea of using the letters, ADHD, in the representation of the disorder. “It’s meant to be bold in the color and the larger than life scale of the letters. It’s supposed to change how you think and interact with the world.”

Going from the idea to the final product was no small task. Each letter is 4’x8’, constructed from two pieces of plywood that sandwich a 2 inch thick foam core. “It took me two and a half weeks to figure out how to get the plywood and the foam to stick together and for the letters to be able to withstand their own weight. But sculpture is a process of trial and error until you learn how to produce your final design.” The letters were painted red and held up by 3 foot tall stakes hammered into the ground outside ZSR. They were symbolically arranged in a zig zag instead of a straight line. “I didn’t want the structural elements or how the letters were decorated to take away from what it’s supposed to be. The letters are big and powerful and stand up against their environment. The staggered placement was meant to add in an element of disorder and distraction in the ironic contrast with ZSR.”

 

The final piece of the project was his own act of guerilla art: bright yellow stickers with “ADHD” written in red. Every time Daniel finished studying he left small piles of the stickers in his study area to represent how ADHD follows him wherever he goes. “They’re bright and kind of ugly but they pop whenever you see one, just like ADHD.”

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Kelly Andrew

Wake Forest

Just an Arizona girl who loves her birkenstocks 
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