Artists Julie Benda and Mary Jane Mansfield participated in Making It Public in 2016, a series of workshops led by experienced Forecast staff and other professionals in the field. The Making It Public workshops series, designed to help artists explore the process of bringing their work into the public art sphere, provides an in-depth introduction to public art project design and proposal development. Presented at no cost to the artists, the series focuses on the fundamentals of creating public art and covers topics like site analysis, community engagement, permitting, conservation, proposal preparation, project management, and project ideation. Participants are invited to propose a project idea for implementation via a competitive grant process.

Julie Benda and Mary Jane Mansfield’s participation in Making It Public helped shape their upcoming projects which will be on view during Northern Spark: Climate Chaos / Climate Rising on June 10, 2017! Forecast is a presenting partner of Northern Spark 2017.


Julie Benda writes:

Each day I approach the water’s edge, the new colors, curves, and sometimes abrupt lack of shoreline remind me of the wholly unstable dirt beneath my feet. Every day this lake/land interface proposes a confrontation—an unending statement that there are forces out of sight and beyond control that are shaping the lay of the land.

I love these changes. They are exciting. However, they also happen to imply certain shifts that are all too unnerving. From a local point of view, the Mississippi is filling in at 10 times its natural rate. Additionally, one might say ironically, as the Mississippi fills in with sand, our U.S. coasts fill up—with water. The rapidly changing climate has set in motion effects that will reshape the earth, dirt, sand and sod that cradle our homes, mark our property lines and define the borders of state and country. As these physical shifts occur, the boundaries we’ve grown accustomed to are, quite literally, just as unclear as our fate.

Under the rubric of Climate Chaos / Climate Rising, Northern Spark 2017 focuses on such similar premises, with an emphasis on moving from a “chaotic overload of information to an uprising of action and activities”. Through the Making It Public series, I was able to take the subject matter of these great sedimentary shifts and translate them into a participatory project that simulates what it means to mobilize in a time of great environmental change. As a person who must do in order to understand, it was as if I needed a literal and tangible execution of rescuing the metaphorical and insurmountable sinking ship of our landscape. A visual measurement of our efforts working together, an accretion that could show me how every grain counts.

For my project Land Raft, I embrace the visual language of preparing for a modern day great flood. Only in this context, rather than staving off the rising seas, we are loading the earth onto a life raft, a reimagined twenty-first-century ark. Five tons of sand will be filled into sandbags and stacked by teams of six, inviting audience members to make manifest the charge of keeping our land afloat.

Having grown up on the water, on the shores of Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, I knew I wanted to make work that tells the story of this shifting terrain through physical engagement in the public sphere. The Making It Public workshop series opened a door into the possibility of making some of these ideas a reality. The several workshops that focused on process, project ideation, evolution and development all gave me the confidence to pursue a project I felt daunted by. In addition, the opportunity to meet local artists in the field became a source of inspiration and exposure that was instrumental in developing my own approach to creating public art amidst a shifting social and environmental landscape.


Mary Jane Mansfield writes:

Feeling overwhelmed by climate change? The Transparent Spirit Elevation Chamber may be just what you need! Eco-Anxiety is real and you are not alone! This relatively new psychological affliction is a chronic fear of environmental doom. So what do you do if you suffer from eco-anxiety? Some people see an eco-anxiety therapist at a cost of up to $250 an hour. The therapist may recommend that you get outside and feel closer to nature, or bring nature closer to you by carrying around a rock or a piece of tree bark. I recommend you visit The Transparent Spirit Elevation Chamber at Northern Spark: Climate Chaos / Climate Rising June 10th 2017!

Having fun, feeling good, restoring ourselves mentally and taking action are all things we can do to alleviate Eco-anxiety. That is exactly what you can get from just one visit to this remarkable Nature Simulation Chamber! And, it’s FREE!