Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Interlochen Arts Academy land art

Brief Summary of the Project:
This new collaborative project that uses “land” as a genre to bring visiting artists, scientists, and land use planners together with high school art and ecology students.

After conducting a Forestry Management Plan, Interlochen Center for the Arts identified about 70 acres of pine plantation on our campus that need to be selectively harvested and re-forested with native hardwood trees. Ten acres of this land have been identified as a study site for ecology and visual art students to document changes in biodiversity, soil and carbon capture as a result of the timbering process. We have the opportunity to create a permanent land art installation commemorating and responding to the process.

Two classes that run simultaneously in Math/Science and Visual Arts allow students to collaborate on the project. The design of a public trail system that runs through the land-art installation provides accessible recreation to our students and the community and raises awareness about the importance of protection, regeneration, conservation and the role art has in making the process meaningful.

The impact of this collaborative project reaches beyond our students and the land on our campus to the people in our community and will hopefully be a model of how to use art to invite the public into environmentally important projects nationwide.

Project Description: Due to the generosity of WilsonArt, funds are available to both study the pine plantation before, during and after timbering, and to involve students, faculty and visiting artists in a land art installation in the subject area. Our proposed plan has the following elements:
  1. The subject area will be timbered in late 2017 / early 2018.
  2. In the school year 2017 - 18, Johnny Hunt, visual arts instructor, will offer a landscape art course, based in the Visual Arts Division, open to students of all majors. Mary Ellen Newport, Director of Math and Science / Ecology instructor, will teach an ecology class that is offered at the same time as the art course. Ecologists and artists will study ecology and landscape art separately, and then have the occasion to work together in the studio and in the field on art and science.
  3. A visiting artist will be brought in to work with instructors to plan, design, create, and ultimately install the land art project in a 10 acre area of the timbered pine off Riley Road. Elements of the plan will consider some or all of these themes:

    • Regeneration
    • Invitation / initiation / blessing of new forest
    • The replacement of the plantation with the natural
    • The way that forests and art are shaped by the passage of time
    • The creation of a special place, a grove, a sanctuary, a nursery; a space that may or may not be able to acknowledge native American sensibilities
    • The changing nature of a forest in the process of secondary succession
    • The role of (bio)diversity in creating stability

  4. Guest artists, native artists, scientists and land use planners will be brought in to deepen the experience between ecology and art. Plans for trails / paths, observation decks, planting regimes will be developed. The expectation is that some of the timbered wood from this plot could be used in building structures such as shelters for students doing data collection, bird observation decks over Bridge Lake.
  5. Here is what we have put together as a description for the artist(s) we have involved: Interlochen Arts Academy seeks collaboration with a visual artist to guide science and arts students in the creation of land art for a 10 acre pine plantation forest that will be transformed (over the years) into a native forest. There are scientific objectives to the project (document changes in soil, biodiversity and carbon storage) as well. Ideally the artist would be available to consult with students for 2 week period in the early fall 2017 (in residence), a time in late fall 2017 (by remote, if necessary) for two weeks in January 2018 (IAA's Inter*Mester program), and for a time TBD in the spring semester 2018.

Images of the land and the areas we are focusing on for this project. The zoomed in area near the lake is where the art would be installed. The pine plantation between Riley Road and Bridge Lake is the location of the project. The project location contains scrubby Scotch pine to the north and west, an irregularly shaped patch of red pine more centrally located, and a wetlands area with a path leading SW to Bridge Lake. The irregular patch is the location of the project.

Melinda Zacher Ronayne
Director of Visual Arts
Interlochen Center for the Arts

P: 231.276.7844

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