Loch Nest – Participatory Art in Madison

At the beginning of the year a group of artists in Madison Wisconsin continued the local tradition of “The annual discarded Christmas tree spiral” with a special artistic twist. Loch Nest was a participatory art installation of these trees – a mashup of Robert Simthson’s Spiral Jetty and the Art Shanty Projects in Minnesota.

Spiral
Loch Nest from above photo by Craig Wilson

The artists used the frozen surface of Lake Monona as an ideal canvas for this participatory public art.  Much like the playa, the surface of the frozen lake is a poetic backdrop for temporary art. It made an overnight appearance about half a mile out in the middle of the lake and disappeared just as mysteriously with no trace a few weeks ago.

It was a spiraling display of 40 old Christmas trees. Inside of the spiral was a box full of ribbons with a note inside encouraging visitors to write “a resolution, wish, or something to let go.” The note read:

Loch Nest
Welcome and please enjoy the forest! This is a temporary art installation that will exist for approximately 1 month. The trees will then be removed using a ‘Leave No Trace’ ethic. If you would like to make a resolution, wish, or have something you would like to let go of in 2011 please write on a ribbon and attach it to the trees.

Loch Nest photo by Adam Briska

Participatory ribbons photo by Adam Briska

Loch Nest is one of many participatory art projects happening around the globe. What do you see happening in your neighborhood/community/city?

About the author: Jess Hobbs

People have often described Jessica Hobbs as someone trying to lead a compulsively artistic life, which is more or less true. She started off her adventure in a small Sierra Foothill town and eventually meandered her way to the San Francisco Bay Area. Along the way Jess has worn many hats; running and creating community art programs, counseling teenagers, curating, exhibiting, designing, photographing and playing with some girls who love lipstick and accelerants. She is an MFA graduate from the San Francisco Art Institute and has been wandering and creating in the dust fest for well over a decade. She believes collaboration is key in community and art. This idea formally began with her collaborative performance work at UCSC and has continued to be a core element in her artistic practice. This core value can been seen in her collaborative project with Felecia Carlisle, Wedding Portraits created for SFAC's Art On Market Street Program, in her work directing the Crucible Steel Gallery at CELLspace, in her creations as a Flaming Lotus Girl and in her work wrangling the Shipyard Labs.

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