Spring has returned to the Midstate, and so it is finally time to put away the snow boots and don our hiking shoes to venture into Dauphin County Park and Recreation’s annual outdoor art display, “Art In The Wild.”
Visitors to Harrisburg’s Wildwood Park are able to walk along a 3-mile outer loop to view naturally inspired trailside creations. Using mostly natural materials, artists have constructed 17 large and small installations. This year’s theme, “Natural Abstraction,” has inspired them to look for the connection between what occurs naturally and its relation to the contemporary art world.
Taking their cue from the theme while blending seamlessly into the surroundings, Beau and Jana MacGinnes have constructed “Natural Abstraction,” a tall sculpture constructed around a living tree. A base of branches is encircled by woven vines, all leading to a nest-like structure. The natural treetop protrudes, and while still bare, it promises to grow green and lush as the season progresses.
Another “natural” addition to the Wildwood forest is “Boundless Tabernacle” by Raymond Crum. These ceramic replicas of naturally occurring tree fungus are effortlessly integrated into a section of trees along both sides of the trail. They so resemble the real thing that it is easy to pass them by, yet at the same time, are the best kind of representation of abstract forms occurring in nature.
Julie Kostecky and Jill Lippert have also replicated a familiar sight, having constructed a larger-than-life nest, containing three colorful and individually distinctive eggs. A path leads one toward “Embracing Diversity,” where a woven branch nest holds the eggs—one coated in seashells, one coated in multicolored pebbles and the third covered in a glass and mirrored mosaic—reminding us to appreciate the beautiful differences that occur in nature.
Other artists have chosen to incorporate more traditional artistic elements into the natural surroundings. Led by Professor Anthony Cervino, two groups of students from Dickinson College’s Art and Sustainability Classes assembled installations along the park’s Towpath Canal Trail.
“Through the Looking Glass” has suspended radial forms that beautifully frame the natural environs. In “Figures,” a community of sculptures combining both organic and industrial materials appears to emerge from the water like supernatural beings, representing the complicated relationship between man and nature.
In an ambitious undertaking, 20 Marshall Math Science Academy students working through Harrisburg Inspiring Connections Outdoors, a local chapter of the Sierra Club’s urban youth outreach program, constructed “Nature’s Gallery.” In their entry, multiple works of art were created, curated and hung throughout a section of the trail as its own gallery. Using an extraordinary number of organic materials, students display framed works and sculptures, an homage to an interior gallery turned inside out.
Impressively suspended above a small creek along Fox Run Trail is “Harmonic Convergence” by Eve Gurbacki and Adrianne Zimmerman. A square frame dangles pieces of bamboo wrapped with naturally recycled and dyed fabrics, resembling patterns created by the ripples in the water below. The structure swings in the breeze, creating motion with the spring-like colored stalks, swaying peacefully above the ground.
Art in the Wild has become a widely anticipated annual event in the Harrisburg area. Each year groups of artists work within the limitations of the materials and the space, yet are able to re-interpret and re-imagine them year after year with a fresh perspective. This year is no different in that it brings out the ingenuity of the participating artists highlighting the themes of preservation and sustainability. It certainly makes the most out of this area’s most precious natural resources, our environment and our creative spirit.
“Art In The Wild: Naturally Inspired Trailside Creations” is on display daily from dawn to dusk until Oct. 31 at Wildwood Park, located at 100 Wildwood Way, Harrisburg.
A map-brochure about the exhibit is available to guide visitors. Those unable to walk the trail may still view the installations by visiting YouTube and searching for “Art in the Wild 2018” to watch a video created by students from the Capital Area School for the Arts Charter School. For more information on Wildwood Park, visit www.wildwoodlake.org.