Client: Lay Sculpture Park
Location: Louisiana, MO, United States
Completion date: 2019
Artwork budget: $130,000
Lay Sculpture Park
Head Grounds Crew for lay Sculpture Park
St Louis University
Wendy Klemperer Art Inc
This group of sculptures explores the natural history of the area, presenting charismatic images of animals still widely present in Missouri. Beyond these three dimensional sculptures of thriving bear, deer, and turkey, silhouettes depict creatures eliminated through hunting or the challenges of evolution, such as dramatic climate change. The silhouettes are scattered, disappearing into the bordering forest, evoking a world of creatures once numerous, fading out into the distance across time.
This is a commission sculpture installation for a 350 acre sculpture park and nature preserve. The park already had about 50 sculptures, including a previous commission I had completed in 2001. The site I chose for this new grouping is about 2 acres. I was encouraged to create a whole environment and adapt the land. The installation consists of ten 3 dimensional sculptures depicting animals thriving in Missouri today. They ate sited on mounds and rock piles to simulate landscape features such as a mesa, or a dry river bed. Off towards the tree line, emerging from the woods, 10 steel silhouettes depict extinct and extirpated animals, shadow presences speaking to the loss of biodiversity over eons from human impact
I worked with the directors of the park and advisors from St. Louis University, a co-owner of the park, for a year submitting drawings and ideas. A panel of seven people reviewed these materials and gave me feedback. I adapted my ideas with their input, as to which animals, and how many, would be depicted. In July of 2018 a contract was drafted and signed. In the next months I sent more drawings outlining how the earth should be landscaped. In November of 2018 I shipped several works out,and spent a week working with the grounds crew, a group of 5 skilled equipment operators, siting boulders and the sculptures themselves. In May or 2019 I returned, and, working with the same crew and the director of the park, sited several more sculptures. We also worked with the local rock quarry, purchasing an additional 22 tons of rocks and boulders for additional site development. I will return with the final group of sculptures in November of 2019 to complete the project.
With this project I was particularly interested in drawing attention to the theory of evolution, now challenged in this mid western region, and to the dramatic loss of biodiversity in the anthropocene age.