Kristin L. Tollefson
Aesthetic Ecology and Endurance in Art & Place
Connections between seemingly disparate ideas – such as storm water runoff and art or community input and aesthetic vision – flow through the Bayer Earthworks. This thoughtfully crafted site, its simplicity and appropriateness for its location, its reference to deep conceptual notions of human community and respect for natural forces create a dynamic whole. But it is Bayer’s sensitivity to aesthetic ecology that allows Earthworks to transcend simple site-specific categorization and become more than the sum of its parts: a perfect storm of repurposing, access, and the transcendence of artistic vision in space and over time.
In The Nature of Order: The Phenomenon of Life, Christopher Alexander refers to a “melted unity” in which palpable life arises from a deeply experienced encounter with a place, an object, a moment in time. Such a poignant exchange, he surmises, comes from the fact that real life is damaged, and that the kind of beauty that exists in this imperfect life is heartfelt. I believe that it is this quality of life and beauty that draws us repeatedly to Bayer’s Earthworks.
Exploring this kind of tension, conflict and ambiguity sustains my artistic practice. Distinctly modern in appearance and fabricated using traditional and hand-wrought techniques, my artwork invokes a balance of decorative lightness and detailed construction out of found, reclaimed or surplus materials. Line becomes volume. Multiple, simple elements convene into powerfully complex wholes. The work is simultaneously scientific and poetic.
Creating in the interface between art and ecology is a fragile pursuit: one navigates environmental accountability, education, aesthetics, varying degrees of societal judgment, and changing views of the times. In this light, the interest that has followed Bayer’s Earthworks over twenty-five years is even more remarkable. This place possesses a life that percolates up from the flow of forms in the landscape, the transformation of a troubled site into a gathering ground, and the synthesis of an individual’s sculptural gesture with the inherent needs of the site: creating this kind of activated union is an attempt worth sustaining.
Kristin Tollefson received her MFA in Metalsmithing from Cranbrook Academy of Art and a BA, Cum Laude, in Anthropology/Sociology and Art History from Carleton College. She has received numerous grants and awards including those from Fulbright, American-Scandinavian Foundation, Bainbridge Island Arts & Humanities Council and Artist Trust; her work has been published in Fiberarts Design Book 7, Metalsmith Magazine, and An Island in Time. Public commissions include Montlake Community Center, the City of Bainbridge Island, Magnolia Public Library, and others. Kristin creates on Bainbridge Island, where she raises her two children and runs flora/form, her art, design & consulting business.
1. Transposition (Mound), 2003. Materials found on site, including live blackberry vines and dead cane, live roses, woven by hand. 12 x 20 x 20 feet. Site-specific installation for Art in the Meadow, Blakely Harbor, Bainbridge Island, WA.
2. Bead/Flow, 2007. Plastic, nails, wood, moss. 2 1/2 x 2 1/2 x 12 feet. Site-specific installation for Art in the Woods, Webster's Woods, Port Angeles Fine Arts Center, Port Angeles, WA.