Chasing the Minnesota Sun

I love the lazy nights we spend sinking into the folds of our leather couches. Our bodies that have hardened under the Minnesota sun, begin relax and soften in the dim yellow light. When I work in the park, I feel like I'm constantly on display with the sun acting as a spotlight to focus the visitors' gaze. It's only when the night sky cloaks the Park that it feels shrouded in intimacy.

I finally started working on my main project as an Intern Artist here. I had this idea of a multispecies muddle--a space where one became conscious of the ways different kind of bodies intimately embraced and affected each other over time. To represent the earth, I wanted to create a form out of the soil which would be carpeted in grass. A second wooden/concrete body would then lay over that form. People would then interact with the sculpture by climbing and laying on top of it and introduce a third kind of body.  Other organisms would also add to the party by slowly colonizing the space. John, the head of the Park, generously gave my a HUGE granite stone upon hearing my idea for my sculpture. With the help of AJ and Matt, the stone was forklifted into my workspace so I could start work.

A tarp Connor helped me set up to shield em form the sun, but the rain that night destroyed the structure :(

A tarp Connor helped me set up to shield em form the sun, but the rain that night destroyed the structure :(

Always smells like pineapples when I tidy up for the day. Pineapple weed grows near the tool shed I keep all my stuff and smells like pineapples when you step on it!

Always smells like pineapples when I tidy up for the day. Pineapple weed grows near the tool shed I keep all my stuff and smells like pineapples when you step on it!

I had all these plans of how I much I would accomplish my first day. But in the end, all I could manage was fishing out rebar from the scrap pile and trying to figure out how to respond to this giant rock. I had never imagined I would be using stone in my artistic practice ever. This gift complicated my understanding of nature vs. artifice. Within the context of the Park's landscape, this rock read as natural to me. Yet the marks on its sides were a reminder of its extraction. Despite all the mowing and weed whacking I do here, it's easy to forget that green spaces are also often manicured spaces.

Green is to White as Park is to Gallery. 

I wonder what an arts space with nature would be like if I built it. How much maintenance would it really need...

Curly Dock in i am not native but i can heal too.

Curly Dock in i am not native but i can heal too.

In other news, I had my first gallery show on Thursday! Four of us interns pulled together a pop up show for the night, Stuck Together, at the Casket Arts Building in Minneapolis. Some of the fellowship artists at Franconia showed up including Jennifer and Sam which was really nice and Robbie from Yeah Maybe came to visit, which is this neat art gallery some Midd kids were involved in setting up. What made my day though was when my dear friend Meg showed up with flowers--I felt so supported in that moment.

The idea behind i am not native but i can heal too was about the language we use in classifying plants and how that can be analogous to the localist nature of American environmentalist movements. I collected samples of four invasive plants around the park and presented the parts of the plants that had the potential for medicinal use on small podiums in between each plant pair. 

Weed, pest, invasive, non-native, alien. Some words to chew on.

The sun is starting to peek out from behind the clouds so it's time to get out on the workpad! Aiming to finish the steel armature for my piece this week so watch out!

Nicole ChengComment