nature converging on trail
Published on October 8, 2001
© 2001- The Baltimore Sun
from a footbridge over Dead Run along the Gwynns Falls trail in
West Baltimore, and you'll find mysterious white lines rippling
from rocks. The ripples aren't water, and yet they imitate water,
and broadcast its vibrancy, even when seemingly still. Coming upon
the whirling lines is like coming upon a crop circle, or an enigmatic
Sturtevant, a recent graduate of the Maryland Institute College
of Art, created these ripples with a little trickery and a lot of
sensitivity to the fluid environment she worked in. As a kid, she
fairly lived in the woods behind her Harford County home, and as
a student in an environmental sculpture class, her interests in
nature and art converged with a certainty unusual in someone so
young. Not only has Sturtevant created her own work for the trail,
she curated an entire art exhibit for the first "Art on the
Gwynns Falls Trail." Called "Whisper the Wind," the
show includes nearly 20 pieces by MICA students, graduates and others
along a one-mile stretch of the urban greenway. Running through
Sunday, the project, which includes art workshops and a jazz concert,
is the first in a continuing collaboration between the Gwynns Falls
Trail Council and the institute's newly formed department of environmental
Falls is terrific. We make good partners," says Katie O'Meara,
the department's chair, who initially approached the council about
working together. With Annet Couwenberg of the fiber department,
O'Meara teaches the environmental site art class where most "Whisper
the Wind" pieces were conceived. It is her goal to enable students
participating in this and other projects to make the transition
from theory to application by creating the pieces they design. To
do so, they must have the technical skills as well as the know-how
to apply for grants and other qualifications for creating public
and private art.
the site design field, building professional skills is as crucial
as building a piece to scale in a specific environment, whether
it is a rural trail or an office lobby, O'Meara says. Ten students
enrolled in O'Meara and Couwenberg's environmental design class
this semester immediately set to work on projects for "Whisper
the Wind." As evidenced by their contributions, they've risen
to the occasion, O'Meara says.
pieces emerge - often surprisingly - along the trail, and speak
to their surroundings. Eric Dyer's tree harp resembles a caterpillar,
through which tightly coiled wires pass from one tree to another.
Next to the piece he has written, "Play me!" When plucked,
the strings emit a kind of earth music, not necessarily tuned to
the Western scales we're accustomed to.
Spinning Tree, Andrew Peter Mezensky has tightly wrapped multiple
lengths of rope around the base of a tree and pinned the thick hemp
cords to the ground with hand-forged springs and stakes. While on
the trail recently, Mezensky says he sought to create a double illusion
of "implied movement." He wanted observers to ask themselves
if the ropes looked as if they were restraining the tree or forcing
it to spin out of its bark.
is Water Elevation, a construction of lovely, artificial lily pads
created by Greg Thompson and Nathaniel Baugher from plywood and
orange vinyl tablecloths. Water flows from one pad to the next until
reaching the Gwynns Falls below.
the trail is Gina Diliberti's improbable piece Braided Grass Ascending
to the Treetop from Path Below. Using fishing line as a guide wire,
Diliberti coaxed a long chain of braided grass to the far top of
a tree. "I hope that my pieces can be related to by the kid
in everyone who can take joy in looking up at the clouds, climbing
trees and playing in the woods," the sculpture studies major
says in her artist's statement.
members of the Gwynns Falls Trail Council, the exhibit is an intriguing
way to call attention to the trail, now about 4 miles long.
are looking for things to enhance the trail that will get people
to come out and explore this largely unknown treasure of Baltimore,"
says council member Bill Eberhart, who has escorted visitors on
art walks along the trail.
Grundmann, another council member, is enchanted with the way the
art reveals itself. Referring to Animal, Vegetable, Mineral, a piece
by Karisa Senavitis submerged in a stream, she says, "Sometimes
you see it, sometimes you don't." As the art moves, or water
moves around it, or as the sun comes and goes, each piece "takes
on its own life," she says.
she planned Sewing on Water, Sturtevant was careful not to remove
the larger rocks that anchor her rippling white lines. "There's
a whole habitat underneath the rock you destroy," she says.
out for their usual weekend walks along the trail are in turn perplexed
and delighted by Sturtevant's work and that of others.
is gorgeous," says Drusilla Bunch, strolling with her friend
Glenn Roscoe. "It really gives you an appreciation of art and
agrees: It's as if they are "walking with God through his nature."
and others hope the project will become an annual event, and that
eventually, when the Gwynns Falls Trail extends a full 14 miles,
it will become an even longer palette for artists' imaginations.
the Wind" exhibit is open from dusk until dawn along the Gwynns
Falls Trail through Sunday. The trail begins at the Winans Meadow
Trailhead on Franklintown Road.
Saturday, a jazz concert takes place at 5 p.m. in the Gwynns Falls
Park Pavilion, located at the Winans Meadow Trailhead.
Sunday, art walks and art workshops take place from 1 p.m. until
more information and directions, call 410-396-0440 or 410-448-5663.
Artist: Brooke Sturtevant is seen with her piece "Sewing on
Water" on the Gwynns Falls trail.
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