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Prairie Seasons

  • Location: Science building, front entrance (snowflake etchings), South Parking Lot entrance (prairie grass etchings, bench installations), and back entrance atrium (stacked snowflakes chandelier).
  • Installed: 2001
  • Artist: Cliff Garten

Whether approaching the Science building from the mall entrance or from the South Parking Lot, one is reminded of the beauty of our winter and summer climate conditions here in west central Minnesota. Large crystalline snowflakes etched in gold greet us at the doorways, while Cold Spring granite benches etched with prairie grasses or snowflakes emerge from a patch of prairie landscaping in front of the back entrance.

Moving into the atrium of this entrance, more snowflakes hover overhead in the form of massive chandelier. Created by public artist Cliff Garten, these permanent installations were commissioned by a group of UMN Morris faculty and staff for the addition to the Science building in 2000, and is part of the University of Minnesota Public Art on Campus Program.1

Garten visited the site of the new building and its locale numerous times as he developed his concept. He is said to have been "struck by the vast landscape, the snow, the ice, and the miles of prairie." Garten then developed what he calls a "visual dialoque" between the exterior seasonal settings and the work of the scientists and mathematicians within the building.

Cliff Garten spent numerous years in Minnesota, having taught for 20 years at Hamline University. He holds degrees in art from the Rhode Island School of Design and Harvard University's Graduate School of Design, and in his work "seeks to create works that express the sentiments of communities and link people with their environments." Garten has created award-winning public art projects for major ciites both in the US and internationally.

Sources:

"Prairie Seasons" project description poster, Science & Math Division
cliffgartenstudio.com

1. This program was established in 1988 when the State of Minnesota passed legislation that 1% of development costs for state-funded building projects go towards obtaining artwork for that space.