by Masayuki Nagase
Last summer I started to work on the first 36-foot-tall vertical spire in the Black Hills Stone Tapestry Garden. The design of the two spires is very important because they express the unifying theme for the whole project: Transformation, change and hope. The aspiration of all beings in nature to live in balance.
When I returned home to Berkeley in the fall of 2015, I created a detailed design for the first spire. I wanted the design to express abstractly the theme of all beings living in balance through the diversity of life of the Black Hills region.
In my design process, I also examined the structure of the spire and found it was like a three story building. It is made out a steel structure with multiple granite panels placed on top. I decided to create the relief on the spire by sandblasting due to the sensitive nature of this structure.
Black Hills Spire
The design of the first spire explores the characteristic landscapes of the Black Hills region such as grasslands, mountains/hills, waterscape and air. The sandblasted design moves upward in a spiral movement, wrapping around the spire. Integrated throughout the reliefs are animal footprints and human handprints. The handprints were collected from over 150 people from children to elders during the previous summer's 3rd annual Gathering of People, Wind and Water Native Art Festival in the Main Street Square. The children's handprints were placed on the top section of the spire symbolizing the hope for the future of this world.
In addition, I worked on the stones in the Black Hills Garden on Sixth Street. I chose water and five native trees as the unifying visual theme for these stones. The overall designs in the stones of Badlands Gardens along Main Street explore the ancient and prehistoric time periods and the arising of mammals and humans. The overall designs for the Black Hills Garden explore the pre-modern time period where new energy and continuous waves of change came to this region.
Description of Stones in the Black Hills Stone Tapestry Garden
Stone #2: Stream of Energy
Water is the visual theme I chose for the Black Hills Stone Tapestry Garden. It is a metaphor for the powerful energy of nature. I designed a pattern of flowing movement of water on this stone. The image carved on the side facing Sixth Street is based on the leaves of Aspen tree that are one of the indigenous trees in the Black Hills.
Stone #3: Seeking Opportunity
Stone #3 represents the impression of the frantic energy of movement that came with the gold rush to the region. I chose to carve lines of large circular movements with handprints and the new appearance of shoe prints representing the introduction of miners and new settlers.
The spiritual way of life on the land for the Native people was challenged by this new energy of movement.
Stone #4: Migration
The design for this stone expresses the movement and energy that arose with the coming of new emigrants into this region. The design explores the form of a wagon wheel with a horizontal wave pattern travelling across. There is also another design layered on top made of thin lines crisscrossing the surface reminiscent of grids on maps showing earlier traveling routes. This design speaks to the introduction of new emigrants traveling by carts and wagons across the land.
Stone #5: Emergence of Horse
This stone explores the introduction of the horse to the region. The design shows abstracted images of horses emerging within waves of flowing movement. Horses brought a significant change to the Native people of this land. The Native people in turn developed a deep respect and affinity for the horse that still continues to this day.
As the sun rises and sets in the Main Street Square, the visitors will see the artwork change depending on the light. Sometimes the carved reliefs will be subtler or they can be more defined. It is my hope that the visitor will walk among the stones and experience the changing light. The carved reliefs are abstracted designs that can give rise to one's own imagination and vision.
Since returning to Berkeley this past October, I am currently working intensively on the design for the Badlands Spire on Main Street. I look forward to returning to Rapid City in June for my fifth summer of work to finish this project. It has been an incredible experience to live and work in this diverse community. I feel honored and touched by everyone's support and their openness to me.