November 19, 2014
by Masayuki Nagase
When I first began studying the design of the Main Street Square, I was always drawn to the three stones that I completed this summer. Their particular forms had a strong presence of movement because of their placement closest to one of the 35-feet tall spires. Stone #3 is the tallest form in the Badlands Tapestry Garden along Main Street and it seemed to be a pair with Stone #4. If you view them together, you can "see" or envision a sphere of energy in the empty space between the two forms. I could feel this strong movement even before I began the visual design for them.
Two years ago, during the artist selection process for this project, the five final artists were given an extensive group tour of the region. I visited the site of Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation for the first time. I was deeply moved as Jhon Goes In Center led us in a prayer for those who lost their lives there. I felt the deep challenge as an artist to create a design that could express this complex history of this region.
After doing the research and background study for this project, I chose the theme of Transformation, Change and Hope: the aspiration of all life in nature, including human beings, to live in balance. In my artwork, I always work with nature as the ultimate force that drives the ever-changing and evolving movement of life. My overall concept for this project was to express the power of nature as a force that moves through time. We experience this energy of nature through the endless flow of life, events, migrations, endings and beginnings.
The designs of the last three remaining stones in the Badlands Garden arose in part from my sense of grief and sorrow for the Lakota people and what they endured and survived. The visual design of Stones #3 and #4 expresses the powerful energy of nature that can be destructive and also rejuvenating of life. I chose the abstract image of lightning-like energy coming powerfully down with force that can break and fracture. And at the same time, this energy can be transformed into root-like forms underground that bring new life and renewal.
As the visitor views these stones, they can discover the different patterns and at times the sense of fusion of these energies traveling across the surfaces of the stones: breaking apart/shattering and creating new life/growing.
This design theme then flows onto the last Stone #2 in the Badlands Garden. The energy transforms into the flowing movement of wind, connecting with the overall main visual theme of the Badlands Stone Tapestry Garden. When one views the outside of these stones, one can feel the natural energy and movement of wind that ties visually all the stones along Main Street. And in the future, this movement of wind will continue upward onto the design for the tall spire next to the Badlands Stone Tapestry Garden.