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Completed Stones

Track sculptor Masayuki Nagase's progress on The Sculpture Project: Passage of Wind and Water through photos and the artist's descriptions of his work, arranged below in order of his progress.

You can orient yourself using this diagram showing the arrangement of the project's 21 pieces of granite in two series: the Badlands Tapestry Garden along Main Street and the Black Hills Tapestry Garden along Sixth Street. The sculptor carves during the summer months, June through October. He began work in 2013 and the entire project will be completed by fall 2017.

2013 Badlands Tapestry Garden

"Aquatic Memory"
Badlands stone #9

I was struck by the incredible beauty of the Badlands when I first visited more than 25 years ago. When developing the design concept, I began by re-visiting the Badlands and being in the landscape. I experienced the geological formations and felt the great span of space and eons of time. I also visualized the vast span of time and felt the energy of the life that strived in this region, the countless extinct species that once lived there. I also felt the energy of the continuous cycle of life, the power of nature that is continually transforming.

The design for Badlands stone number 9 explores the nature of this region when it was under the sea known as the Western Interior Seaway that covered the Great Plains. I wanted to bring awareness to the ancient life in this infinite geological time span. Fossils are witness and evidence of this ancient past, they connect us to the history of life on this planet. I also worked with the energy of wind and how it was continually exposing and changing the landforms in the Badlands.

I chose varied fossils from this period to integrate into my design. They have natural forms that I find beautiful and intriguing. One can see in the stone the forms of ancient mollusks such as an Ammonite and Bivalves. Also there are traces of the Mosasaur, the ancient reptile and the ancient Bulldog Fish: Xiphactinus audax. These creatures were also interconnected in the chain of life during that period. All of these fossils are found in this region. I explored the SDMT geology museum and the Journey Museum as a part of my research for developing my design.

- See more at: http://www.rcsculptureproject.com/blog/on-the-blog-first-stones-revealed.html#sthash.4xtjsP4Q.dpuf

I was struck by the incredible beauty of the Badlands when I first visited more than 25 years ago. When developing the design concept, I began by re-visiting the Badlands and being in the landscape. I experienced the geological formations and felt the great span of space and eons of time. I also visualized the vast span of time and felt the energy of the life that strived in this region, the countless extinct species that once lived there. I also felt the energy of the continuous cycle of life, the power of nature that is continually transforming.

The design for Badlands stone number 9 explores the nature of this region when it was under the sea known as the Western Interior Seaway that covered the Great Plains. I wanted to bring awareness to the ancient life in this infinite geological time span. Fossils are witness and evidence of this ancient past, they connect us to the history of life on this planet. I also worked with the energy of wind and how it was continually exposing and changing the landforms in the Badlands.

I chose varied fossils from this period to integrate into my design. They have natural forms that I find beautiful and intriguing. One can see in the stone the forms of ancient mollusks such as an Ammonite and Bivalves. Also there are traces of the Mosasaur, the ancient reptile and the ancient Bulldog Fish: Xiphactinus audax. These creatures were also interconnected in the chain of life during that period. All of these fossils are found in this region. I explored the SDMT geology museum and the Journey Museum as a part of my research for developing my design.

- See more at: http://www.rcsculptureproject.com/blog/on-the-blog-first-stones-revealed.html#sthash.4xtjsP4Q.dpuf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was struck by the incredible beauty of the Badlands when I first visited more than 25 years ago. When developing the design concept, I began by re-visiting the Badlands and being in the landscape. I experienced the geological formations and felt the great span of space and eons of time. I also visualized the vast span of time and felt the energy of the life that strived in this region, the countless extinct species that once lived there. I also felt the energy of the continuous cycle of life, the power of nature that is continually transforming.

The design for Badlands stone #9, "Aquatic Memory," explores the nature of this region when it was under the sea known as the Western Interior Seaway that covered the Great Plains. I wanted to bring awareness to the ancient life in this infinite geological time span. Fossils are witness and evidence of this ancient past, they connect us to the history of life on this planet. I also worked with the energy of wind and how it was continually exposing and changing the landforms in the Badlands.

I chose varied fossils from this period to integrate into my design. They have natural forms that I find beautiful and intriguing. One can see in the stone the forms of ancient mollusks such as an Ammonite and Bivalves. Also there are traces of the Mosasaur, the ancient reptile and the ancient Bulldog Fish: Xiphactinus audax. These creatures were also interconnected in the chain of life during that period. All of these fossils are found in this region. I explored the SDMT geology museum and the Journey Museum as a part of my research for developing my design.

"Evolving Dream"
Badlands stone #8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Badlands Tapestry Garden stone #8, "Evolving Dream", continues with the theme of geological time that I began with in stone #9, "Aquatic Memory". Inspired by the vastness of geological time and the ongoing evolution and continuation of life, I wanted to explore the enormous changes that occurred when the land of this region rose higher and water receded.

I studied the late Eocene and Oligocene periods when the arising of mammals began, roughly 26 to 32 million years ago. I was reflecting on the brief length of one human being's life span compared to millions of years of evolution. I was so impressed with the richness of the fossils that showed the evidence of previous life forms, not from the sea but from the land. This design explores the evolution of a variety of species of mammals in this dramatic change in the stream of life.

For the design, I selected a number of fossils to work with that are commonly found in the White River Badlands foundation. The fossils include: the three-toed horse or Miohippus; Metamynodon distantly related to the rhinoceros or hippotamus; Protoceras a deer-like early mammal; and the hog-like Merycoidodontoidea or Oreodonts. I also included the fossil patterns based on turtles that were found in this region about 30 million years ago.

All of the above fossils are continually being found and studied in South Dakota's Badlands and excellent examples are at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology's Geology Museum. The Badlands Visitor Center at Cedar Pass also has well designed educational exhibits that show prototypes of these early mammals.

As an artist, the richness of the Badlands continually inspires me as it reveals the profound history of the earth and nature. The fossils gave me an impression of life transforming with the ever-changing environment. I was struck with how life strived to evolve and adapt. I also felt deeply the nature of impermanence through the continuous transformation.

"Aquifer-Hidden Source of Life"
Badlands stone #7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Aquifer – Hidden Source of Life" has an existing small water element and I envisioned how to work with the theme of water in my design. On the surface, the Badlands region looks apparently arid with little life, but it actually has a rich variety of flora and fauna. A hidden source of life is the underground water. Water is not plentiful but there is enough to sustain many lives. Various kind of grasses thrive in this land by sending more than half of their tissues and roots underground. I was amazed to learn that one square yard of prairie sod can contain 5 miles of roots. Water as a hidden source of life is the basis of the design for this stone.

"Living in Balance"
Badlands stone #6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The design concept for “Living in Balance” is based on the close relationships between Native Americans and animals living in balance in the Badlands. The archeological researchers found traces of human activity here from over 1,000 years ago. The Badlands was an important hunting ground for the Lakota people. One day when I was camping at the Sage Creek Campground at the Badlands National Park, I saw several bison nearby. As I observed them grazing peacefully in the growing dawn light from the hills behind, I tried to envision when there were hundreds of thousands of bison roaming in this grassland. The images in the design come from this essential connectedness between human beings and animals.

"Fairburn Agate"
Badlands stone #5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I started doing this project, I visited the Journey Museum and the Museum of Geology at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City. I discovered the Fairburn Agate and was struck by its natural beauty. These mysterious gem formations carry an essence and record of the ancient geologic history of over 250 to 300 million years. They are typically found in the Black Hills, the Badlands and the surrounding grasslands area. I was impressed with these miraculous creations of nature and decided to integrate their patterns into my design. — Masayuki Nagase, October 2013

(See more photos of the artist's first year here.)

2014 Badlands Tapestry Garden continued

Below, the artist describes the three Badlands Tapestry Garden stones completed in 2014. Stones #3 and #4 together comprise "Regeneration" and #2, "Flow".

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. — Masayuki Nagase, October 2014

See more photos of the sculptor's 2014 work.

2015 Black Hills Tapestry Garden

In the summer of 2015, the sculptor began work on the Black Hills Tapestry Garden along Sixth Street.


I chose water as the main visual theme for the Black Hills Stone Tapestry Garden. Water is a source of life and has an essential power to change and form the land.  When doing research into the Black Hills, I discovered that the region is a major source of water. The Black Hills has a number of lakes and streams and many underlying bedrock aquifers. They nourish and saturate the land all around the Black Hills.

Starting in June of 2015, I began to carve the group of stones known as the Black Hills Stone Tapestry Garden that run along Sixth Street nearest to the parking structure at Main Street Square. My design comes from envisioning life emerging in prehistoric time and sensing how the energy arose and created the early humans and mammals. From ancient times the Black Hills was a place of evolution of many life forms and even today, one can find great diversity of the flora and fauna that has survived over time. I wanted these stones to evoke our remembrance and connection to the deep expanse of geological time that is the foundation of present day life.

“Toward Light”
Black Hills stones # 9a and 9b

 

Starting with Stone #9a, I designed flowing wave patterns that encircle this vertical stone and carry to the next stone. On the stone’s surface facing the Square an ancient bison-like mammal emerges out of the waves. It expresses the energy and life that arose from the movement of water.

On the outer surface of stone #9a facing Sixth Street, I created an abstract design based on the ponderosa pine that covers most of the Black Hills. I continue this design theme exploring different trees indigenous to the Black Hills including spruce, ash and others along the exterior surfaces of the remaining stones.

On the next stone, Stone #9b, I carved a design with human handprints emerging from an abstract radiating sun-like pattern. This design expresses the arising of human life from the flow of energy.

The overall designs on these stones speak to the arising of the early mammals and first humans and touch on the immense power of survival of life in the Black Hills from ancient times to the present.

“Source of Life”
Black Hills stone #8

 

This stone is the widest block of granite in both gardens and has a quiet water feature. I envisioned the design for this stone to represent the energy of water as a source of life. On the side facing to the Square, I carved large concentric circle patterns that radiate from the center of the stone. This abstract design conveys the pure expression of energy of water going out and penetrating everywhere.  

On the stone’s surface facing Sixth Street, I designed an abstract pattern based on conifer tree forms that emerges above the flowing wave pattern.

“Fairburn Agate”
Black Hills stones #6 and #10

There are two low stones that can be used as seating elements. On their top surfaces, I sandblasted designs based on the pattern of Fairburn Agates. The Fairburn Agates are found in the Black Hills, the Badlands and the surrounding grasslands area. In each beautiful unique agate, one can see and feel the miraculous creation of nature. — Masayuki Nagase, November 2015

2016 Black Hills Tapestry Garden continued

The sculptor began work on the first of the project's two landmark spires and completed the Black Hills Tapestry Garden series of stones along Sixth Street. 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the summer of 2016, I started to work on the first 36-ft.-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.

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.

Artist's Message:

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.

 

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