Volume 1, Issue 2, Fall 2009
The Sky Below, Earth Above
A look into one artist’s philosophical perspective regarding the successes and challenges of creating public art installations. The essay explores the development of a series of large-scale temporary works through the artist’s intuitive, conceptual, and spiritual response to particular locations, which have ranged from Baltimore to New York to Seoul, Korea. The article comes to focus upon a particularly controversial installation constructed in Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis, Maryland. It explores the relationship between plastic debris and driftwood collected from the faltering ecosystem of Chesapeake Bay beaches and what the public perceives as a natural environment of that park.
The installation was created on top of the ruined foundation of an early twentieth-century hunting lodge located in a stand of old trees, which contained additional artifacts of the site’s original farm. The artist’s intent was to create an explicit walk-through environment with an implicit meaning in order to allow the public to contemplate and interpret the associations and meanings. What resulted was a well-publicized controversial split over spiritual questions, which exposed a divisive fault line between wealthy conservatives and the general public.