The Parrish Art Museum will present “Work No. 2210: Everything Is Going to Be Alright” (2015) by artist Martin Creed from May 28 through November 30. The 70-foot-long neon sculpture will stretch across the museum’s south-facing façade, displaying a single line of unpunctuated, rainbow-hued text that reads “Everything Is Going to Be Alright.”
One of Creed’s most iconic works, “Everything Is Going to Be Alright” is an expression of his desire to communicate, connect and provoke. For Creed, his art is “50 percent about what I make and 50 percent about what other people make of it.” Both playful and minimalist, “Everything Is Going to Be Alright” is visually spectacular in its neon audacity, yet it also encourages a more contemplative response. While the phrase is at first familiar and reassuring, it gently suggests that everything might not be alright, pointing to the heightened anxieties and inequities of this moment.
The sculpture was first presented in 1999 as a temporary public art commission for the Clapton Portico in Hackney, East London, which was derelict at the time. Built in 1825, the Portico was home to the London Orphan Asylum until a local typhoid epidemic in 1867 forced the orphans to be relocated. Both the genesis and the first iteration of “Everything Is Going to Be Alright” resonate with current circumstances around COVID-19, which is lessening in some places and continues to devastate in others, a disparity all too often linked to economic and racial privilege. The Parrish installation aims to inspire critical thought as well as optimism: like pandemics past, these difficult times will end and so too, the systems that perpetuate them.
Creed’s humanist, inclusive work often attempts to upend social norms. The phrase draws on the comforting words Creed was offered by a friend.
“No one can really tell you everything is going to be alright, but despite that, many times in my life I have been very comforted by people saying something like that to me,” he said.
“Everything Is Going to Be Alright” is emblematic of Creed’s artistic practice, which uses language, ordinary materials, and everyday interventions to communicate with a large public. It was Creed’s first neon work, a material that he has subsequently used numerous times to illuminate other words and phrases in a variety of scales, including “Don’t Worry,” “Feelings,” “Friends,” “Love,” “Mothers” and “Understanding.”
Martin Creed was born in Wakefield, England, in 1968 and grew up in Glasgow. Today he lives and works in London. The work is the latest addition to “Field of Dreams” — an outdoor sculpture exhibition in the Parrish meadow, featuring works by an international, multigenerational group of artists who engage and respond to the museum’s architecture and landscape. Other variations of the artwork have been installed across internationally renowned institutions and buildings, most recently at Braemar Castle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland; Christchurch Art Gallery, Christchurch New Zealand; MMOMA, Moscow, Russia; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, UK; MOCA Detroit, Michigan, USA; and Tate Modern, London, UK. The version to be presented at the Parrish was first shown at the Aspen Art Museum as part of the exhibition “Stories We Tell Ourselves” (2015) and at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles (2019).
The Parrish Art Museum is at 279 Montauk Highway, Water Mill. Visit parrishart.org for details.