Client: Forest County Potawatomi
Location: Crandon, WI, United States
Completion date: 2021
Artwork budget: $240,000
The Art Studio
RDG Planning & Design
Forest County Potawatomi
RDG Planning & Design in association with Uihlein / Wilson / Ramlow / Stein Architects, Inc.
Macco’s Commercial Interiors, Inc.
“Seasons” is a visual story of the Twelve Moons rendered in glass mosaics interpreting Native American cultural symbols. References to the twelve-month calendar and seasonal events in nature important to the Forest County Potawatomi (FCP) Community wrap four support columns that frame the FCP Community Center Commons central meeting place as an integrated art installation. The building support columns are structurally functional and symbolic of the Four directions (ways): North, East, South, West, the Four Seasons, and deeper spiritual reflections connected to the cycle of life and community in harmony with seasonal time, nature, and each other.
The central location of the Community Commons is the “heart” of the new wellness facility. A multipurpose space where individuals of all ages interact, it is a connector space to various amenities: large open fieldhouse space, gym spaces, fitness training areas, care spaces for young people, climbing, swimming among many other mind and body improvement spaces. The goal of the integrated artwork in this location is to create multiple opportunities for tribal elders and members to foster awareness and connect young people to the cultural icons and stories associated with a native spiritual being deeply connected, part of nature and cyclical time. The icons such as the Ktth Mko Gise (Big Bear Moon) of January and Ete Men Gises (Strawberry Moon) of June references images of fauna and flora suggesting the fierce coldness of winter and a soft sweetness of summer. Finding the imagery of a hummingbird, a thirteen stripped gopher, a chrysalis and the butterfly create moments to share deep cultural stories from generation to generation connecting young and old and nurturing community heritage.
The site-specific theme of “Seasons” was developed through a collaborative approach with tribal artist representatives and project design team members led by artist Matt Niebuhr. Over the course of a series of workshops, exchanges of sketches and tribal artist input, each seasonal theme was developed and informed by the cultural significance shared by the tribal artist project team. The resultant interpretive artwork reflects both the graphic symbols and colors associated with each season. The artwork was then enlarged, and the Art Studio worked with the glass mosaics supplier to translate the imagery to fit the columns in the commons space.
As integrated art, the installation is an example of the Art Studio collaborating deeply with other artists to gain meaningful insights about the symbolic content desired to be expressed so that the FCP community would have another means to sharing their stories using their own ‘words’ strengthening cultural connections.