Amateur Art in the Adirondacks | St. Lawrence University Adirondack Semester

Amateur Art in the Adirondacks

by:  Hattie Geist
Hogan Dwyer

All twelve Arcadians arrived back from mid semester break with 30 minutes to spare before our English class, Creative Expressions of Nature.  Mark, our professor, arrived just as we were finishing up a hurried lunch.  Today was the day we would become sculptors.

This past summer, while we all still had access to technology, we watched a documentary called Rivers and Tides.  In it, artist, Andy Goldsworthy is shown creating temporary outdoor sculptures out of natural materials like leaves, sticks, ice and even sheep’s wool.  The designs were inspired by patterns seen in nature, especially the winding flow of rivers and the dome-like shape of eggs.  We were all amazed at his ability to create a beautiful masterpiece, than watch it be swept away by the tides.

With Goldsworthy’s ideas in our minds, we spread throughout Arcadia and beyond to put our creativity to the test.  After two hours of hard work, Mark rang the kitchen bell.  Time for sculpture tour!

We began with Isabel’s water born piece by the back dock.  She tied blades of grass together and wrapped them around sticks planted in the lakebed.  This formed concentric circles, which she then filled with local Arcadian foliage.  Although, in typical Goldsworthy fashions, many leaves blew away during the building process, the piece set a high bar for the rest of us.

Next we checked out Caleb’s colorful work.  He arranged fallen leaves from brightest yellow to deepest red, forming a path from a multicolored pile to a large tree.  He described the sculpture as a symbol of the transition from busy “red” mid-semester back to mellow “yellow” Arcadia.

Looping through the woods, we came to Claire’s giant tree root sculpture.  She wove yellow leaves, reminiscent of sunshine, into a chain that wound along the dirt mound of a fallen tree’s root system.  The shape was inspired by the back of a brook trout.

Next up, Ian’s towering piece.  Using a ladder, he hung groups of different colored leaves from massive fungi growing horizontally from an upright tree.  Ian is the resident art major of the group and we were all very impressed.

Matt’s sculpture was the next destination.  Matt encircled a mossy spot in the forest with sticks, then formed a colorful leaf circle within it, symbolizing the recent hurricane down south that shares his name.  It served as a nice reminder of how lucky we are to be Arcadia, with only cold and snowy weather to worry about.

Following that was Spencer’s unique spider web sculpture.  He used twine made out of dried grass to form a web, then built flies and larger than life spider out of sticks, moss, and leaves.  He noted that he couldn’t truly replicate spider’s silk, an impressive and unique substance.

Celeste was inspired by the changing fall colors, something she has always loved.  She used leaves to create a fleeting landscape of mountains, a river and the setting sun, that when placed in the water disappeared as quickly as the fall foliage.

Amanda was ecstatic to find that when Bracken ferns begin to die and lose their deep green, they turn her favorite shade of yellow.  Weaving these ferns together she created a fall wreath that she set afloat in the Massawepie waters.

Yellow pine needles were woven into Red Maple leaves and displayed on a branched twig to create Abi’s masterpiece.  She wanted to represent the interconnectedness of seemingly different things, just as the semester has connected all of us as Arcadians.

Cleo collected leaves from a Red Maple growing at the water’s edge and created a line of leaves starting at the tree and cresting a small hill.  The colors flowed from red to orange to yellow showing the seamless transitions that happen in nature.

Hattie made a mandala on the ground creating layers of different colors she found around Arcadia titling it “Untitled..”  She let the viewers interpret her piece in their own creative ways.

Hogan carefully balanced dead, downed branches onto live standing trees to create the illusion of being inside while still outside.  He boldly went against Goldsworthy’s signature circular designs by using very geometric shapes.

Everyone was very impressed by their fellow student’s hidden artistic talents and agreed that this was a smooth wat to transition back into life here at Arcadia.