Life on the plains is appreciated in the Midwest, where fields of wheat and flocks of birds are as common as skyscrapers in the cities. Though the landscape of the plains may not seem especially picturesque, Tracy Linder reconstructs that idea with her installation of “Plain View” featuring “wings” and “wheat” at the Dahl Arts Center.
Linder is a sculptor and installation artist from Montana, where she grew up on a small family farm. She now lives northwest of Billings, where she continually is inspired by agriculture and the simple beauty of the plains.
“My major inspiration is my entire life — my family, my connections that I have with people and the land and where I live,” said Linder of her work. She speaks of biographies of plants and animals, and the intricate details that often are overlooked.
“I love seeing the skeleton of wings; it’s really fine-boned and beautiful,” said Linder as put finishing touches on her installation. The “wings” portion of the display features 100 blue and purple wings of various sizes, which rise to an upward crest in the middle and come back down gracefully. Linder sculpted the wings out of resin, and used molds to achieve the intricate details in each wing.
“I just really like the moment when you get to see the birds take off or come down … that heart- fluttering moment.
… It’s this whole idea of freedom and flight,” Linder said.
Why use 100 wings?
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“I’ve always threatened to do 100 of everything that I do, but I never quite make it there, and so when I started the wings, I needed 100 for the whole vision to come through, but when I’m hanging them, I sometimes wish I had 200,” she said.
“Wheat” is equally impressive, though, are the three very large grains of wheat suspended from the ceiling. The grains were crafted with a resin center encased in supple, amber leather. Hand-painted grasses adorn them.
Wheat is a strong icon in the Midwest, especially on the plains where it is grown. Linder has participated in several harvests, and is moved by the durability and resilience of this food source.
“I look at what it has survived and how it continues to come to fruition despite all of the droughts and tolerance of grasshoppers, bugs, birds, people and weather. It just keeps surviving all of these things,” Linder said.
“I think Tracy’s work speaks so eloquently to the experience of living on the northern plains. It’s very simple, you know; you get it. To me, what’s so special is that she doesn’t say it in very many words. It’s so simple and it speaks so well,” said Mary Maxon, curator of exhibits at the Dahl.
For more information, call Mary Maxon at 394-4101, Ext. 206, or go to www.tracylinder.com.