A Bend in the River, Silverwood Park, 2014. Photo: Christopher Atkins.
A Bend in the River, Silverwood Park, 2014. Photo: Alyssa Bagus.
A Bend in the River is a sculpture composed of cedar replicas of stream bank rehabilitation cribs. The arrangement, either a gentle arc or a meander, matches their intended use as an engineered solution to rebuild eroded riverbanks, usually in cold-water trout streams. (It is worth noting that these watersheds are particularly sensitive to destructive warming.) In a completed conservation project, the cribs would be anchored into the bank, buried with rocks and soil and the rebuilt bank would be planted with native plants and grasses in an effort to repair a damaged river. In this sculpture the engineered structure is made visible in an effort to consider society’s manipulations of the natural world: the efforts at healing and conservation; the damage that has been, and is currently being, caused by irresponsible practices; and, the overlooked, but no less dramatic, changes caused by the infrastructure required to keep an industrialized society fed, fueled and housed.
The cribs are built with stout layers of cedar boards so that the sculpture can serve a double function as a bench. The installation creates a space for contemplation, dialogue and rest.
Gregory Fitz is a visual artist, writer and curator based in Minneapolis. Broadly speaking, his work explores how value is assigned to art objects through evidence of labor, the tradition of depicting the natural world, and how art making fits within larger conversations surrounding consumption, sustainability and permanence.