Dead or only sleeping?

This time last year, I blogged several photos of Laura Ford’s “Armour Boys,” an outdoor installation at the DeCordova Sculpture Park featuring five bronze knights crumpled in a grove of pine trees. Ford’s work is one that looks better as it ages, a subtle patina of neglect adding to the poignancy of slain soldiers lying among fallen leaves.

Pine Sharks

Because I’ve been going to the DeCordova for years, I remember another piece that was previously on display in this same grove: Kitty Wales’ “Pine Sharks,” which featured three circling sharks welded together from the rusted hulls of castoff appliances. As coincidence would have it, I blogged that installation back in 2009, the last time Photo Friday featured the theme, Metal.

This is my contribution to today’s Photo Friday theme, Metal, as well as my Day Twenty-One contribution to NaBloPoMo, or National Blog Posting Month, a commitment to post every day during the month of November: thirty days, thirty posts.

Pine Sharks

Today’s Photo Friday theme is Metal, which gives me an excuse to post this picture of Kitty Wales’ Pine Sharks, one of several images from an April visit to the DeCordova Sculpture Park which I posted to Flickr but never blogged.

Pine Sharks

Of all the ingenious, odd, and downright weird works at the DeCordova, Pine Sharks is probably my favorite. I love its fishily fluid lines; I love the juxtaposition of rusted metal, pine boughs, and blue sky; and I love the irony that a sculpture of sharks was conceived by an artist named Wales. (In checking out Kitty Wales’ website, I realize that I’d seen another of her installations, Canis Ex Machina, when it was featured in an indoor exhibition at the DeCordova Museum in 2006.) Only at a place like the DeCordova can you be surprised and delighted by the possibility of airborne fish fashioned from abandoned appliances.

Pine Sharks

It is exactly this element of surprise that I crave in any individual art work or exhibition. When I go to a sculpture park or museum, I’m looking to have my worldview widened. Even if I don’t “understand” an especially bizarre piece of art–and the DeCordova always features some head-scratching doozies–what I love about a good museum is the way you walk away from it feeling like you’ve seen the world, at least for a while, through someone else’s eyes. I would have never dreamed of seeing sharks swimming overhead among pine trees, backlit by sky; I would have never dreamed of seeing rusted metal transformed into fish. Having visited Wales’ vision of a pine forest patrolled by piscine predators, though, it now seems perfectly right and natural to imagine metallic sharks circling the sky.

Click here for the complete photo-set from my April visit to the DeCordova Museum & Sculpture Park, including several images of the mysterious J in action.

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