In Mass MoCA’s hangar-size Building 5, a 300-foot swath of old railroad ties gently curves across the worn concrete floor. Sunlight streams through the rows of windows lining the brick walls of the former factory, projecting bands of light down the building’s length that mirror, and engage with, the stretch of track — a crossroads of the natural world and the manmade.
“I work on the edge between nature and culture,” says sculptor Richard Nonas, walking through the cavernous gallery, “between space and place. What we think of as culture is simply assigning human meaning to those things that don’t start out having it. Place is the physical world, filled with human meaning.
“This,” he adds, gesturing toward his softly arcing installation, “is as much about these windows as it is about that line.”