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Blugolds create sculptures from natural materials along Chippewa River Trail

| Judy Berthiaume

Photo caption: UW-Eau Claire art majors created several sculptures that can be found along the Chippewa Valley Trail near the Haas Fine Arts Center of UW-Eau Claire’s campus.

Look carefully as you walk along the Chippewa River Trail near the Haas Fine Arts Center and you will see several sculptures created by University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire art students using only natural materials.

“Students were tasked with finding a specific site near Haas to create an environmental artwork using only materials found in or near the site,” says Cedar Marie, assistant professor of art & design. “There isn’t any signage, so people have to look for them. All works will naturally become part of the site they originated from in their new forms.”

Three of the sculptures can be found by the bike path along the Chippewa River near the Haas Fine Art Center, and one is closer to the Water Street Bridge facing downtown Eau Claire.

Blugolds created sculptures out of natural materials they found along the trail near campus.

Blugolds created sculptures out of natural materials they found along the trail near campus.

Four students created the sculptures as part of their “Site Specific Art” class, taught by Marie.

“Most materials were natural, but litter was incorporated into the nest piece by Carolyn Ede and later removed so the trash did not go back into the environment,” Marie says. “One interesting point about this piece is that the student involved her children and also her Girl Scout troop in conversations about littering and the environment.”

Ede used branches and sticks to create a larger-than-life nest in honor of Eau Claire as a bird city. She also collected litter from around the bike trail and made  a ”trash egg.” Her hope, she says, is that piece will “help remind people to respect our winged neighbors, dispose of trash properly and enjoy the beauty that birds bring to our community.”

Ede is a senior from Mondovi who will graduate this month with a major in studio art and a certificate in American Sign Language.

Caleb Carr, an art illustration major from Mineral Point, used a found section of a tree that had been cut down to create his “In memoriam” piece, which honors the life of the tree.

Taylor Wilkinson, a senior from the Village of Lakewood, Illinois, who will graduate this month with an art photography major, created “Ephemeral” by replicating a spinulose wood fern, which the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has classified as needing “special concern.” This piece is best viewed from the Water Street bridge facing downtown.

Sarah Stresnak, a senior from New Prague, Minnesota, who will graduate this month with an art illustration major, created “Nature’s Clothesline,” a piece that uses nature to support its own needs but also serves as a connection to humanity’s past and a long-standing tradition in some cultures.