Franconia Sculpture Park
Our visit to Franconia Sculpture Park came about after we passed a sign en route to Minneapolis. Though we had a full weekend planned we immediately decided we’d come back on our last weekend before leaving the build in Luck. The park, a 43-acre outdoor space, is filled with over 100 sculptures, many of which are monumental in size. Also included are outdoor workstations at which artists-in-residence create and discuss their work.
After viewing the pieces closest to the parking area and speaking with some of the sculptors creating at the workstations just beyond Tom, Abby, and I began walking the mowed paths through the wildflowers that led to some of the largest sculptures located on the south side of the property. Here we witnessed how the artists had placed their works in relation to the land as well as the other pieces. This was no more true than with Clearing by Jennifer Newsom and Tom Carruthers, a series of strategically-placed mirrors that erases and then makes surrounding works reappear as you move through the mowed corridors. It was quite fascinating to have our perception of the surrounding environment manipulated so easily – many times just by stepping a foot in one direction or another. This disruption and creation of space and experience was a concept that stayed with me long after we left.
Another piece that stuck in my mind after leaving was And If We Pass Here by Samantha Holmes, a work – that to me – examines the created, artificial nature of barriers and their inherent falseness and lack of real meaning. By representing only the mortar and the not the substance of a partition the artist seemed to emphasize the continuity rather than the division that wall would normally portray. Seeing as how we visited in summer 2018 at the height of the Border Wall debate, this work seemed to reinforce how barriers/walls divide humanity when the reality is that there is no difference between us. The artist’s decision to remove the mass of the wall changes the meaning from that of separation to interaction, or, as she better stated it: “Rather than a site of exclusion, the wall becomes a locus of exchange.”
There were many more impressive works than only these two; many – but certainly not all – of these are pictured below. The park proved to be one of the most interesting and enjoyable of stops during our stay in Wisconsin and was a place we’d happily visit again should we be in the area; it would be wonderful for example to visit during a hot pour or the erection of a large work.