Des Moines Art Center | Des Moines, Iowa

Initiated by the Des Moines Art Center as one of a series of artist¹s installations in the Museum park, the project was developed over a seven year period. Given the number of organizations interested in the park, I decided to collaborate with various local groups to make a place which would operate on several levels: a site which could be layered onto another site and which would have multiple readings. The importance of the park to the immediate neighborhood is made apparent by invoking and building upon layers of associations and memories which have collected over time. Walking around the pond, shifting between overviews and cut-outs within the water surface, the individual visitor is able to trace an intimate view of the place while putting together a new understanding of how it operates visually and physically. Additionally, the makeup and processes of a Midwestern wetlands become clearer as one understands their role in the immediate environment.

Paths lead the viewer to multiple ways of seeing this place. A walkway overhanging the edge of the pond makes it possible to move out over the water. Proceeding around the water’s edge a ramp disappears into the water after getting the visitor down to the level of the pond. The line of this ramp extends in a long arc across the pond marked first by wood pilings and then by a concrete-lined trough cut into the water. Adjacent to this arc, on the land the walkway continues around the edge of the pond past a series of structures, including a pavilion, a mound and a curving wood trellis to form the other side of the ellipse. A large leaf shaped space is outlined by these structures affirming and making palpable the connection between the land and water. The covered pavilion with a seating area inside is built up against the curving mound, which rises almost to the height of the pavilion and seems to wrap it into the landscape.  Continuing around the edge of the pond a small bridge pavilion allows the viewer to descend to the water once again in an area filled with water lilies.  Proceeding further there is an entrance down into a concrete trough  where one is able to sit at eye level with the surface of the water; having been kept to the edge, at a distance, the visitor is able to actually enter the pond.  One feels the protection of the concrete walls holding back the pressure of the surrounding water.   Above the trough, on the other side of the path, is a series of stone terraces, on a hillside filled with prairie grass. Movement is key to the experience of the project; the visitor constructs an understanding of the site through the experience the multiple elements and the relationship created between them.

-Collaboration with Founders Garden Club, Des Moines Parks Department and Des Moines Science Center