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 August 21st, 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.
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.
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.
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.