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SiTE LAB: Art in the Wild

Posted August 3, 2011 in Events


I’ve never been to an art installation where I needed to cover myself head to toe with bug spray. And I’ve never been to a show at which I thanked my tour guides with a piece of green apple and a pat on the nose. But that’s the novelty of attending an art installation created by SiTE LAB.

Sitelab flier

SiTE LAB creates temporary site-specific art projects aimed at facilitating dynamic collaborations between the art, education, business and cultural communities of Grand Rapids.

This summer’s SiTE LAB was held July 29 at the Blandford Nature Center. It’s an incredible learning oasis of 143 acres of beautiful wooded land in northwest Grand Rapids. Blandford Nature Center believes children and adults learn best through personal experience – whether that be standing knee-high in water to learn about stream ecology or planting squash seeds to start a garden.

Sitelab Citizen Shirt

But on this Friday evening, Blandford was about art in the wild. About 30 groups of student/artists displayed their work throughout the grounds on the east and west trails. All art shown was made of natural materials found on-site.

Kendall Wagon Ride Sign

Kendall sponsored the horse-drawn wagon ride that took us on a trail only accessible by wagon. About 20 of us, from adults to a young mother with an infant in a carrier, jumped in the wagon.

Site lab horses

Our docent, Ryan, warned us of low-hanging branches, as well as the mosquitos and bugs awaiting us, and off we went, drawn by three Belgium draft horses, April, Joe and Bud. We had a small delay as the horses’ ears were treated with bug spray, but we were soon off.

We rode through an installation by Nathaniel Mabie, geometric shapes stacked atop each other. Thin and unobtrusive, only their light color made them stand apart from the saplings surrounding it.

Tom Clinton’s piece was next, best described as a very creatively stacked pile of firewood between two small trees. My seatmate, Quinn, who was about six, first asked, “That’s all?” but after a moment’s consideration as we drew closer, he said, “That’s cool. I like it.”

Site Lab Drum Circle

Our ride ended as Chris our driver, spurred the horses into a run as we pulled back into the center clearing, where we were greeted with the sound of a drum circle. As twilight fell, intrepid explorers armed with flashlights headed onto Blandford’s trails, for a nighttime art experience.

~Pamela Patton

P.S. Special thanks to Terry Johnston who supplied these photos after my camera died.


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