Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Naturally Inspired Two Artists Exhibiting at Laumeier Sculpture Park Craft Statements That Will Live on -- Literally

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Naturally Inspired Two Artists Exhibiting at Laumeier Sculpture Park Craft Statements That Will Live on -- Literally

Article excerpt

Sometimes nature's hand alone is more than enough to ensure a beautiful design. Without a doubt, we humans would probably find a way to botch up the honeycomb and the spiderweb if we set our minds to it.

But sculptors Giuliano Mauri and Alison Saar serve as exceptions, somehow managing to strike a balance between the fabricated and the spontaneous. Work with nature rather than against it, they insist, and the results will be well worth the effort.

The two artists recently completed new works for Laumeier Sculpture Park in Sunset Hills, so their results are now available for all to see. Mauri's work will remain on view for several years, and Saar's will become part of the park's permanent collection.

Mauri, a native of Lodi, Italy, spent several sweltering weeks in July creating his "vegetable house," a 30-foot- high abode constructed from more than 4,000 separate pieces of elm, hickory, oak and maple.

Bound together with saplings and some unobtrusive nails, the tree limbs simultaneously appear as processed building material and natural debris. Such a theme runs through Mauri's piece. With its door and ample living space inside, the sculpture serves as an inviting shelter; yet from a distance, the network of curved and straight lines works as an aes thetically pleasing design.

To further accentuate the natural process inherent in his work, Mauri has designed his piece to grow and develop long after his departure. Between the exterior and interior of the vegetable house, Mauri planted vegetation that will eventually creep up the walls, turning the wooden, skeletal frame into a lush, blossoming -- and very much alive -- tree.

Coincidentally, it is also a very much alive tree that serves as the starting point for Saar's "Leelinau."

Named for a Native American mythical figure, "Leelinau" rests high in an oak tree's branches along one of Laumeier's heavily wooded trails. Blink and you'll miss it, for Saar's female creation consists of a carved wooden body and green-tinged copper wire hair sprinkled with leaves and twigs. …

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