Sculptor David Sprecher has been hard at work these last few weeks. Traveling to Afton from his native Chicago, Sprecher has been out on the Belwin prairies, creating polyurethane foam molds of bison tracks and natural imprints. These are the first steps to be taken in preparation for his upcoming land art sculpture, “Roaming Stone,” which will be unveiled at Belwin’s Tallgrass Trails on July 31st, 2022 as part of 4Ground: Midwest Land Art Biennial. After its unveiling, “Roaming Stone” will remain on Tallgrass Trails, where it can be visited by anyone during public trail hours, from dawn to dusk. 

“Roaming Stone” marks Belwin’s first long-term art installation, commissioned as part of 4Ground: Midwest Land Art Biennial. 4Ground, a two-month-long art festival spread out across the Twin Cities, broader Minnesota and the Upper Midwest region, was conceived by Ginger Porcella of Franconia Sculpture Park as a way to foster connection through land and art. This is a connection that Belwin cares deeply about — and one that Sprecher has big ideas for.

A Memory of the Prairie

Sprecher’s molds take time and precision. requiring several hours of work in the heat under changing conditions. To help, Sprecher is aided by his years of experience and his colleague, Jeff Prokash. Currently a sculpture teacher at the Chicago Academy for the Arts, Sprecher’s work has been shown in New York, Chicago, Baltimore, Berlin, and Sapporo. With a history of ambitious, thoughtful pieces to his name, “Roaming Stone” is an exciting continuation of Sprecher’s unique work. 

Once Sprecher and Prokash have finished at Belwin, the polyurethane foam molds will be formed together into a large, textured globe. This globe, according to Sprecher, “will be a spherical seal, a fingerprint, a memory of the prairie.” In July, the globe will be set in concrete at Belwin’s Tallgrass Trails, where it will be on display for the public to interact with for years to come.

Artists rendering of “Roaming Stone.” Actual installation will be on Tallgrass Trails

Future visitors to Belwin will be able to see the imprints of real bison hooves up close in “Roaming Stone.” The roaming of the bison is essential for the prairie, as they aerate the soil, which helps plant growth, and the dispersion of native seeds.

Abstract globe in progress
In-progress image of “Roaming Stone,” courtesy of David Sprecher

Being able to see these unique imprints is essential to Sprecher, who states: “The inverted tracks will bring to mind all the ways the bison maintain the health of the prairie ecosystem through their erratic roaming, grazing, and wallowing. Wrapping the impression of the land around a sphere, an object that rolls freely in any direction, reflects how the bison pick up and deposit microbes and seeds as they roam. In its ability to infinitely reproduce its impression of the soil, ‘Roaming Stone’ becomes a piece of DNA that honors the persistent regeneration of life imprinting itself on the land.”

Not only a stunning piece of art, Sprecher’s work will be a signifier to all future visitors about the importance of the natural landscapes of the Midwest and the role that bison play in it. 

The unveiling event on July 31st also features the Indigenous multidisciplinary duo Taiquaa//Ambe Omaa (come here). Their work combines throat singing, textile, storytelling, and visual symbols. This performance is part of a series that takes them from Rochester to Afton to Fargo in a northwest direction as a subversion of Manifest Destiny that pushed Natives past the Mississippi and beyond. 

Taiquaa//Ambe Omaa (come here) performing at Rochester Art Center, alongside an illustration of the duo

Major support for 4Ground: Midwest Land Art Biennial provided by the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation Fund at the St. Paul and Minneapolis Foundation, Blandin Foundation, Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation, Arts Midwest, Fred C. and Katherine B. Andersen Foundation, and the Minnesota State Arts Board. Additional support provided by International Sculpture Center, ArtTable, and Sculpture Milwaukee. 4Ground: Midwest Land Art Biennial is a program of Franconia Sculpture Park.

The installation and opening of “Roaming Stone” is made possible in part by support from the St. Croix Valley Foundation. 

Follow David’s work and contact him: davidsprecher.org and @piggys_palace on Instagram.

Female figure wearing large bison head in the woods

Check out our other 4Ground events! Visit our events page for more information.

Animals Bison Land Management Notes from the Land Partnerships Seasonal

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We are currently holding events at Belwin in accordance with CDC guidelines. Please see individual event descriptions for details regarding COVID-19 safety measures. We are continuously monitoring the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 and will modify events as needed in order to follow current public health recommendations.

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