Fungus Among Us
This past week was a week of completing things! It feels good to finally reach the finish line on several items. One of those projects was the Mushroom Sculpture for the Highland Park Art Center’s Magic Garden Exhibit. Throughout the summer several blocks in downtown Highland Park, Illinois are transformed into a Magical Garden with colorful sculptures of butterflies, peacocks, dragonflies and yes giant mushrooms! Last Thursday was the grand opening celebration and it was a beautiful afternoon for the unveiling of nearly 50 artist made creations.
I was invited to submit a design concept for jury review a couple of months ago. My first thought was, “Sounds like fun, unfortunately I don’t have time right now”. But Olya Dailey the owner of Eastgate Cafe, who saw last year’s display of colorful butterflies in Highland Park urged me to go ahead and submit a design. In moments I knew what I wanted to do with the over 36 inch high fiberglass mushroom form we were to use as the base for our creation. I planned to crocheted a covering in bright nylon cord in a random “crazy crochet” manner. Then with a product called “Paverpol“, permanently stiffen it into a hard plastic like form. So, I began my crochet frenzy and in about a week and a half I had created an over 40 inch diameter dome to fit over the mushroom cap. I painted the base fiberglass form black and also stiffened hand-dyed cotton fabric to cover the stem of the mushroom. The crochet cap took over 2000 grams of the Paverpol, but it worked to create a hard and weather resistant fiber piece. I also applied several layers of the Paverpol Matte Varnish to ensure that the piece would stand up to UV and moisture exposure. It was a great departure from the usual artwork that I create. I have always wanted to work on an outdoor sculptural piece and push the boundaries of where fiber art can be. This gave me the opportunity to do that.
Another wonderful aspect of this project was the creative writing component. The parameters of the project included either selecting a poem from the list given or writing your own. I chose to write my own, and as I crocheted the words bounced around in my head. I jotted down the thoughts as they came to me, editing it at the end. The poem is displayed on a plaque with the art piece. I love creative writing, but unfortunately I don’t find much time for it. This gave me a wonderful excuse.
This project creates a bridge between the Oak Park Arts District and the Highland Park Arts Center. Several Arts District artists created pieces for the exhibit and Highland Park Arts Center will be displaying several of the Art Center sculptures in Oak Park during the What’s Blooming On Harrison Event. The sculptures in Highland Park and Oak Park will continue to be on display throughout the summer and then auctioned off in early fall.
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