WMU News

Dutch artist sculpts new work on campus

April 18, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- A new, innovative piece of sculpture is in the works at Western Michigan University, and spectators can watch it being created starting today, April 18.

The massive, outdoor piece is being sculpted using chainsaws from a large oak tree that was delivered by truck to rear of the Knollwood Building. It is being designed and built by Dutch artist Mari Shields. Born in Maine, Shields has lived in Amsterdam since 1972 and maintains dual citizenship in the United States and the Netherlands.

Shields has already begun preliminary work on the tree at the site where the tree was located in Three Oaks, Mich. The project is expected to continue through the weekend and into early next week.

Shields' sculpture has been attracting attention the world over. Her work has been included in public collections in the Netherlands in Amsterdam, Albrandswaard and Utrecht Province and is currently on semi-permanent loan in the United States to Wendall Sculpture Park in Urbana, Ill., the Franconia Sculpture Park in Shafer, Minn., the Plattsburgh Museum of Art in Plattsburgh, N.Y., and Sycamore City Park in Sycamore, Ill. It also has been featured annually in Pier Walk exhibitions in Chicago at the Field Museum, Daly Center and Navy Pier since 1997 and at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.

WMU students and faculty will assist Shields in her project here. The well-known chainsaw manufacturer Stihl is donating the use of three chainsaws. Once completed, the sculpture will become part of the WMU Sculpture Tour.

Having an artist like Shields come to campus and demonstrate her sculpting process will provide a unique and valuable learning experience for students and faculty alike, says Carol Rhodes, a WMU art instructor and Sculpture Tour administrator.

"I think it will be very exciting for us on a lot of different levels," Rhodes says. "It's unlike anything we've done before and its always nice to bring in a variety of works of art and expose the campus community to work that people wouldn't ordinarily see."

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, 269 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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