Phoenix Weaving Sculpture
Patrick Marsh Wildlife Area
Sun Prairie, WI
In 2019, Groundswell Conservancy asked me to facilitate a community design project that would result in a sculpture that could be seasonally set aflame as a part of a renewal tradition on their Patrick Marsh Wildlife Area. Partnering with metal sculptor, Don Schmidt, I conducted visioning sessions at Prairie Phoenix Academy (PPA), an alternative high school in Sun Prairie. With drawings and words from students we designed this weaving frame consisting of flames and a phoenix rising from the middle.Two PPA students then visited Westside Elementary School with us to teach younger kids about the project and gather ideas through an interactive wire sculpting activity. The younger students contributed ideas to the design.
The Nature Nook
In 2019, through the City of Madison's Connecting Children with Nature (CCCN) initiative, I spent several months with Bayview Community Center youth designing a "Nature Nook" or nature mini-park within Brittingham Park in Madison, WI. The Nature Nook design features accessible pathways, play raft with accessible ramps and deck, fort, boulder "dragon," climbing log, branch boxes/fort building materials, planters and a hillock.
Each season, this elaborate weaving frame will be adorned with invasive and overcrowded brush cleared by restoration teams and burned in celebration of the renewing forces of nature.
Connecting with nature can take many forms. One of my favorite activities with groups is to celebrate nature by creating ephemeral art.
During community art events, I construct weaving frames between trees with local, hand-spun wool. Children harvest prairie plants and create collaborative, ephemeral weavings as an offering of gratitude.
Pictured here: Patrick Marsh Conservation Area.
Asian, Mayan and Christian traditions depict mandalas - symbols of the cosmos, as well as that within our minds and bodies and the relationship between the two. The circular pattern has been used as a focal point for meditation or prayer. Creating an ephemeral mandala offers us a space to pay homage to transient nature of everything and live in our present experience without attachment to a final product.