Monday, August 3, 2009

Admiring the Work of Others

I went out to my college ala mater, Governors State University, to check out some new sculptures there, specifically in the area called Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park. Go to their website ( ) for more details. Though I don't create sculptures myself, I do appreciate it as a wonderful medium of expression. I believe they have 26 different exhibits, constructed over the course of 30 years, scattered on the lands surrounding the university, which gives the place a real nice arty touch. The latest sculpture addition is called "Horizons" by Icelandic Artist, Steinunn Thorarinsdottir. To get to these sculptures, you have to go down a path to the left of a small lake. I was like a little kid, excited by what I'd find at the end of the trail.

After a few minutes of walking through flat lands dotted by sunflowers and hollyhocks, the sculptures came into view. Several of the figures, cast in iron, can be seen in this photo. There are 12 figures total scattered throughout this area. Sorry the figures are so dark, blame it on the bright sun, can't be me, right? See the building behind them. That is where I went to college. I received a degree in psychology, but they've got a really nice bachelor's and master's program in art there as well.

Here you can see the sculpture in better lighting. This one is perched on a nice rock bench. He likes the tree because it provides shade. Okay, I said he and this is what I want to mention next. These are 12 "ungendered" human figures, according to the artist. Still, I blushed a bit as I stared at them in their birthday suits. To elaborate on the sculptures' meaning, his work touches on themes of loneliness and isolation. Threads of hope are inspired by glass inserts that provide an aura of spirituality. After I found this out, I looked at the figures with "different" eyes. I saw these inserts on the front and back of the figures. The next close-up should reveal this in more detail.

Glass Insert at bottom of above photo

I'm not sure, but I believe there are 6 figures in this photo. I was alone for awhile with these sculptures as my husband went wandering off. It felt just a bit eerie, they really have such a human feel to them. Would they suddenly start walking towards me? Would I turn into an iron figure myself? My mind was playing tricks on me. I think it was time to find my significant other!

Another path leading to the next sculpture called "Bodark Arc" by Martin Purvear. They say this particular sculpture, called Land Art, is best viewed from the air. Well, maybe next time I'll rent a helicopter or something. Anyway, this next piece uses earth, wood, osage orange trees, asphalt, stones and caset bronze. Wow, so many materials and probably alot of love went into this creation. So let's walk up the path now that I've given you some info.

Here's a small, cast bronze chair found at the end of the path. Its design is based upon a West African elder's throne. Pretty mystical, right? It's nestled into the trees and osage orange trees are sculpted around it, which I'll show you in the next photo.

Pretty neat how the branches are arranged as part of the sculpture/land art. I liked the mysterious feel of this area.

Well, yours truly could not resist sitting in the throne. I wanted to see if I'd get some magical powers or something. Maybe my next painting will reflect something strange and powerful. Stay tuned. There are 24 more sculptures scattered on the grounds, but these two I examined in detail I had never seen before, so I focused on them.

All in all, a good day. I am proud that my school continues to take art seriously. For 30 years now, they have had Masters of contemporary sculpture come and create unique pieces of art. It was fun to go down memory lane and to learn more about land art and sculpture in general. In October the artist who created the iron human figures will be speaking at the school I think it's time to mark my calendar.


Carol Anne Strange said...

These sculptures are amazing and I love the magical atmosphere that they evoke. I can just imagine your excitement, Bev, at discovering them and then the strangeness wondering if they would come to life. Just imagine that place at night under the light of the full moon. Wow! Love the photo of you and I do hope that this visit has proved inspirational. I'm sure it will have. Much love and thank you for sharing. x

butterfly woman said...

Hi Carol,
It is a great place to let your imagination run wild. I might have to come out on a full moon night. Bet those glass inserts would really glow in moonshine. Thanks for the idea, "Figures in the Moonlight" to follow. Gives me shivers thinking about it!

Doris said...

What a great experience... what a great exhibit! Enjoyed hearing and seeing!

Elena said...

Thank you so much for sharing. These are beautifully creepy. I also thought what these must look like at night and I probably would be too creeped out seeing as how I tend to humanize everything. But they also reminded me of the topic we've been discussing about purpose. Like if the sculptures are in a suspended state waiting to blossom into their true beings. Like I hope to some day!

Wendy said...

Wow - just love the shots of the multiple figures in the grass. yes - it is eerie or...otherwordly. Nice to experience it through your eyes!

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