Alum’s Spectacular art

Posted: February 23, 2011

photo by Jeffrey Riley

Alum Chris Larson talks about bridge to discovery

By Jeffrey Riley
Talon Staff Writer

As you make your way through the entrance of the Walker Art Center, to the right and up the stairs, only one thing catches the eye. A grand wooden covered bridge. The contrast between the pine and modern art is sudden, intriguing and purposeful. The piece was created by Minnehaha Academy alum, Chris Larson, and is a part of the exhibition The Spectacular of Vernacular. The exhibit, curated by Darcie Alexander, is focused on artist’s fascinations with the seemingly ordinary objects or things. Recently finished, any guest’s of the Walker will be able to visit the Larson’s piece and the exhibit through May 8th.

Q. Could you tell me a little about the inspiration for your piece at the Walker?

A.  Well, I started with a smaller idea, began building covered bridge models in the studio, even though I’ve never been in a covered bridge. I remember having a record called The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I always liked that story. The cover of the record pictured the Headless Horseman chasing down a school teacher, and legend has it that if you cross the bridge you’ll be okay. I like the idea of the bridge separating good and evil, danger and safety.  It evolved from there.

Q. How long did this piece take you to build?

A. The majority of it took place in the studio, for about two months. Putting it together in the museum took about ten days. The piece is made from local white pine and is 45 feet long, 16 feet wide and 18 feet tall. About three quarters of it are inside of the museum while some of it continues outside, separated by a window.

Q. Are you trying to send a message through this piece?

A. This is meant to be an experience to have alone. I requested that only one person go up at a time for a singular experience. Building it ten and a half feet off the ground gives the piece an interesting place in the museum. The material of this old wooden structure piercing this modern structure. It’s placed in such a way that it overlooks the lawn and one can notice different and perplexing angles in the museum. I really hope that transformation will take place by walking through this.

Q. What do you like especially about this piece?

A. It is a nice separation from walking around like a Walmart. I’ve been moved by art numerous times and I want it to give people a different sense of reality.

Q. Are there any other items in the works at the moment?

A. I don’t actually plan much out. I just build and respond to the last thing I built in the studio. This one started as a covered bridge, and now there are wings that go off both sides. Things change in the process. Don’t map it out, just live with it.

Q. What is your favorite part of being an artist?

A. The freedom to do whatever I want, and what I enjoy doing.

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