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Natural materials that are customarily perceived as plebian are elevated and revered, challenging and reforming the connections between people and their environment. Pole Sculptures move and change in response to wind, sun, and rain. Over time they break down in a natural process of decomposition. They speak of the interrelationships and cyclical rhythms of nature, of the living cycles of plants and animals, of the relationship of the earth to the cosmos, of birth, death, and regeneration. Materials might be collected from the shoreline, forests, fields, or agricultural areas. Materials must be relatively lightweight, culturally or environmentally significant, and able to be collected in quantity. Each pole is festooned with a distinct material. Past Pole Sculptures have used spinning, felting, sewing, binding, piercing, and wrapping strategies. Ideally, this work is performed onsite, where the sculptures will be installed. The material collections are affixed to the tops of long poles (approximately 26 feet, or, 8 meters). With volunteers and community members, we lift up the poles, place them in the holes, and tamp down the earth to secure them. Since 2000, Matthew has been working on this series of Pole Sculptures, with installations on the Navajo Nation in Arizona; in northern and southern New Mexico, Alabama; Long Island, New York; and Schoonoord, Netherlands. Materials have included: Wool, leaves, tumbleweeds, seeds, alfalfa, vines, gourds, pinecones, reeds, shells, aquatic plants, potatoes, wheat, copper, grasses, mud, and palm fronds.
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