Build a sculpture and you expect it to last. Not so at Djerassi where native redwoods, ancient oaks and wide open spaces are all incorporated into the art. Placement is a key feature of each installation. Most of the sculptures here are created from materials foraged from the forest floor. Mediums like fallen redwood logs, madrone branches and oak limbs eventually make their way into many Djerassi sculptures. Once installed the pieces are, for the most part, left to weather the elements. Wind, rain, sun and forest creatures all take their toll on the art. Change is but another factor that lends interest to the works. Many of these sculptures will eventually decompose and disintegrate into the land. This is nature coming full circle, reminding us of the impermanence of being.
During this weekend’s hike at Djerassi, my group and I focused on twenty-two of the thirty-one sculptures on the 2013 Art///Sky hike. The first stop on our tour was Cynthia Harper’s wooden sculpture, “Nest,” created in 1997. This piece is constructed of madrone and redwood twigs and branches. They are doweled together to form a nest on the forest floor. Nest was knee high at its creation in 1997. Today it is less than five inches high. In 2009 it looked like this:
Today it looks pretty much the same except that it is a little more disheveled.
Next stop on our tour was just a few yards away from “Nest.” “Menagerie” by Jen Blazina is situated on the banks and in the bed of Harrington Creek. Some of these fairy tale like pieces have already been washed downstream towards the ocean. Who knows how many will remain after the upcoming season’s rains. This is in keeping with the artist’s intention — that the pieces become part of a diaspora of art.
Yusuke Toda’s, “Contemplator” was the third work of art on the tour. This piece was carved by hand from a 10-foot redwood log that was found on the property. It is situated in a deeper section of the creek than “Menagerie” is. Its rate of decay is also specific to its location. Nearly ten years after its creation and installation in the creek bed, “Contemplator” has not changed much. Here it is in its current state:
To keep this article relatively short I’ve only presented three of the many sculptures seen on this tour. If you wish to see more photographs of some other Djerassi’s sculptures, please see my recent art review, “Decay and Disintegration” at Droste Effect Magazine.