Mysteries of the Marsh

Submitted by Sharon Bladholm

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Client: Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Location: Chicago, IL, United States

Completion date: Jan 01, Array

Artwork budget: $20,000

Project Team

Artist

Sharon Bladholm

Opal Glass Studio

Other

Jill Ridell, Head of Exhibits

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Artist

Anna Lehner, Designer of Exhibit

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Overview

A stained glass window depicting marsh habitat and a bronze with 3 species of dragonflies resting on fiddle head ferns was created for the “Mysteries of the Marsh” permanent exhibit.
Bronze Blanding turtles were created to show the size difference between wild turtles that are foraging for food and ones raised in captivity in the “Head Start” program for turtles.
I also created 3 door handles in bronze, a Hines Emerald Dragonfly, a Chimney Cray Fish plus giant American Water Beetle. These were attached to small informational doors that people were not lifting, so the beautiful handles encourage this.

Goals

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum approached me about creating art specifically for the exhibit and it was a very important part of the over all design of the exhibit space. They wanted me to create art work that would engage people with the wet land habitats and the species that inhabit them. Also educate them about the Head Start program for turtles.

Process

I collaborated with both Jill Ridell, Head of Exhibits and Anna Lehner who was the designer of the exhibit.
We had several meetings and based on these discussions I created "Idea Sketches", small scale sketches showing potential art work.
Jill Ridell had commissioned me to create stained glass windows for her own home, so she was interested in having stained glass be involved. At a meeting she said"Oh, but I also love your sculptural work". So I said, "Well, you don't have to choose, we could do both" and that is what was done.
I also created two bronze turtles that were placed on a log outside of a tank of actual Blandings turtles.
I also created 3 door handles in bronze, a Hines Emerald Dragonfly, a Chimney Cray Fish plus giant American Water Beetle. These were attached to small informational doors that people were not lifting, so the beautiful handles encourage this.

Additional Information

I loved having a chance to further explore my interest in the intersections of art, science, nature and conservation. And it was a dream job, because as a child my favorite animals were turtles. I owned many, all named Alexander!