Creative District Wilmington and local artist Susan Benarcik teamed up this month to create a unique piece of art. A work that brings real meaning to idea that “art imitates life.”
Although, in this case, art is imitating nature.
The Creative District community came together to construct a large natural sculpture in The Rock Lot using natural woven fibers and other materials. The piece captured the complexity and beauty of one of nature’s most artistic projects – nest building. Birds construct these artistically designed structures based on instinct. The community matched instinct with their creative energy.
Susan Benarcik is an experienced artist who works with natural elements to construct her works. She guided participants and educated them on this unusual form of artistry.
All skill levels and ages were invited to join the project. Participants first learned nest-building techniques by making a small nest. Then, they were able to take what they have learned and applied it during the build days for the larger natural sculpture in The Rock Lot.
This project was supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
I spend a lot of time in the environment, nature is part of almost every facet of my life; my work, social interests, the things I read, the artwork I make. As a child I was obsessed with gardens and greenhouses. I observed plants and their reactions to their environment and thought perhaps that I had a better understanding of plants than of people. The strength of my work comes in equal parts from my love of the natural world, and vision as a mixed media artist.
I began to make art formally as a printmaker, using nature and plants as metaphors for the human experience. I delighted in sourcing appropriated images from antiquated garden books, encyclopedias, and magazines to express my understanding of how humans and plants possess similar tenacious or yielding qualities. While gathering titles, phrases, and the imagery from these sources, I quickly learned how we mistreated the environment in the name of progress.
As an artist living in New York City, I had ample time to consider the ways nature was exhibited my own concrete environment. In an effort to bridge a gap between urban living and the natural world, my focus shifted toward activism and stewardship, and my works on paper became increasingly more sculptural. In an effort to communicate our universal connection between humankind and the environment, I began to incorporate raw materials such as earth, wax, vines, flowers, twigs, roots, and seeds into my work on paper. The work gained dimension.
Coming full circle, I’m once again a Delaware resident, and now a seasoned artist, who is continually inspired by the natural world. It was an honor and privileged to work with Wilmington’s Creative District Program to create an engaging community art project. As an artist I believe it is my responsibility to share my skills with others, and in doing so create an awareness of community through art. Project NEST is a unique community project that brings together indviduals to share ideas, collaborate, story tell, and build connections.