STEPHENVILLE — Tarleton State University fine arts professor Molly Valentine Dierks was selected for a competitive fellowship this summer in support of an ambitious project at Franconia Sculpture Park in Minnesota.
Over several weeks’ time and with help from assistants, she mounted “I Worried,” an interactive sound piece that will endure in the park for two years before moving elsewhere.
Inspired by the eponymous poem by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver, “I Worried” is a series of modified street signs that replace typical regulatory language with lines of the work about anxiety, vulnerability and evolution.
Dierks is excited to share her work with the outdoor park, which has hosted over 150,000 visitors.
“The process of manipulating and recombining my collection of language, objects and forms is part of a quest to deconstruct and distill the formal and linguistic qualities of desire, conformity and love in post-industrial culture,” she wrote.
Attaching electrodes to leaves and human skin, Dierks recorded the music made by plants, as well as by her body and those of Franconia residents as they meditated on states of being like worry, love and connection.
The music was combined with natural sounds of wind, birds, water and frogs to make original compositions. As viewers pass by, a solar-powered sound device vibrates the thin aluminum, and select signs act as speakers, “singing” each unique song.
“Memory, experience and personal relationships are generative fields for me, coloring the ways I mine and expand the space between the machine-based constructs of ‘function’ and ‘dysfunction,’ ” she said. “Using the visual vernacular of contemporary culture — plastic, neon, signs, advertising, rubber, cast metal, digital prototyping — I probe a space of vulnerability where desire is amorphous, shape-shifting, irrepressible, both human and animal.”
Located in the scenic St. Croix River Valley, the 43-acre Franconia Sculpture Park is a nonprofit arts organization featuring an active artist residency and community arts programming.