By Jenny Zeller

2019 was GIANT year for the arts at Bernheim! In addition to the highly successful Forest Giants in a Giant Forest installation, Bernheim hosted architect, photographer, and aerial sculptor, Janice Lee Kelly, Louisville artist Kathleen Lolley, and Murray, KY artist Justin Roberts through our internationally renowned (and nearly 40 year old) Artist in Residence program! Art also had a giant presence at our annual events and especially at CONNECT, Bernheim’s annual summer celebration honoring the relationships of science, nature and creativity. This year, our regional artists really enhanced the experience by stepping up to the challenge of the ReCONNECT call for artwork and I couldn’t be more proud of the results!

Inspired by the sustainable mission of Forest Giants creator Thomas Dambo, ReCONNECT challenged artists to turn materials otherwise slated for trash into treasure by presenting art made predominantly of recycled and found materials, encouraging viewers to re-imagine the potential of everyday discarded products. As an added creative challenge to the arts community, Bernheim offered up leftover Forest Giants materials as building blocks for submission proposals.

The Kentucky Governors School for the Arts convenes every summer, with a faculty of professional artists and educators to guide over two hundred of Kentucky’s finest young artists through three weeks of incredibly intense yet fun arts instruction. This summer they had a full day arts experience at Bernheim that culminated in a collaborative work of art made from left over Forest Giant material. Pictured here are the Visual Arts students with instructors Matt Gaddie and Brian Somerville.


Grass Serpent by the Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts students. This 30 foot sculpture, made with leftover Forest Giants material was created in 3 hours by 36 high school artists.


Detail of ‘Sylvia and the Sock Plants’ with artist Marty Wourms from Floyds Knobs, Indiana. The recycled materials used in this installation are discarded socks, plastic grocery bags and pillow fiber.


Artwork at CONNECT initiates a dialogue between science, art and nature. Due to the timing of the event, installations must create a visual impact both before and after the sun goes down. Pictured here is a participant interacting with Marty Wourms ‘Sylvia and the Sockplants’ while illuminated.


Dawn Bunch from Louisville created the beautiful ‘Dream Maker’ from plastic grocery bags, netting & packaging, aluminum cans, bottle caps and found objects from nature.


Strategically situated under the stunning sycamore tree near the entrance of Bernheim, Dawn Bunch’s ‘Dream Maker’ dazzled viewers not only by medium but also through motion.


Bob Niederman from Floyds Knobs, Indiana deconstructed a large metal spool originally used for wire by utility companies for his installation entitled ‘Metal Rising’.


Regional Artist in Residence Justin Roberts unveiled ‘Sounds of a Whippoorwill-Bernheim’, a large eco-land art installation, located on the backside of Lake Nevin.


“Sounds of a Whippoorwill-Bernheim” brings awareness to the eastern whippoorwill population, whose environment is continually encroached upon by invasive plant species. With the help of 35 volunteers, Roberts harvested invasive species throughout Bernheim’s arboretum that are most threatening to the whippoorwill habitat, including 35 Bradford pear trees and over 300 honeysuckle and autumn olive bushes. These invasive branches became the underlying framework of the installation that was completed when wrapped with 2000 native willow saplings.


Casey Dressell from Cincinnati, Ohio, exhibited ‘Wangari Maathai’ and ‘Junko System’, mixed media pieces honoring important women in history. Recycled materials incorporated deconstructed and re-purposed tarps.


Big Outside Art is the artist collective of Deva North, W.G. Rickel and Stashia Smyrichinsky. The created the amazing installation entitled ‘Vertigo Bluff and the Macropores’ seen in detailed photos below.


Using the existing beauty of nature as a template, Big Outside Art created larger than life versions of otherwise small organic matter. Pictured here is a an illuminated 25’ hand-woven Orb Weaver spiderweb adorned with insect detritus and egg sacks and fabricated out of recycled and re-purposed plastic rope and electrical wire. Picture by Dan Bryan.


Recently discovered along the path of a proposed natural gas pipeline that would cut 3/4 of a mile through Bernheim Forest, the Hidden Springsnail was a timely and relevant addition in this installation. Illuminated with battery operated LED lighting, the glowing 2’ snail shells hung like lanterns beneath the canopy of a tree and were made from old pool noodles, packing foam, fabric, and package shipping material. Photo by Dan Bryan.


A dozen 18” turkey tail mushrooms ascended nearby tree trunks completing the ‘Vertigo Bluff and the Macropores’ installation. These polypores mushrooms were recreated with milled, rough cut wood scrap, yarn clippings/ends and egg cartons. Photo by Dan Bryan.


2019 Regional Artist in Residence, Kathleen Lolley,  from Louisville, created a series of visual vignettes incorporating found objects from the natural landscape in the form of stop-motion animation that highlights the interconnection of nature and the human realm. Press play on the above file to see a small clip from this film and hear live music by the band Death Itself.


Kathleen Lolly also built the awesome Lake Phoenix sculpture we floated on Lake Nevin and lit on fire once the sun had fully set. This sculpture was built entirely out of leftover Forest Giant materials, mostly from bourbon barrel staves.


The lighting of the Lake Phoenix from Bernheim staff.


Lake phoenix totally aflame!

Thank you again to all the regional artists that make this event so special. We are already looking forward to next year’s CONNECT!

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