Field Rotation 1981
Artist: Mary Miss (American, b. 1944)
Materials: earth, wood, steel, water
Provenance: Commissioned by the Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park, GSU Foundation with support from the National Endowment for the Arts
Mary Miss is one of a group of artists who came of age during the late 1970s and built careers on the idea of creating or incorporating elements of landscape in their sculptural compositions. Another example of this approach can be found in Martin Puryear’s Bodark Arc, also in the Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park.
Field Rotation mines a broad spectrum of art historical references while being a wholly original creation. The work is so large it can be fully appreciated only by viewing from the air.
At its center, a mound has been constructed with a sunken gravel garden in which a three-tiered set of platforms preside over moats which fill temporarily with rainwater. Steel ladders on the north and south walls grant access. Associations with cliff dwelling Native American Indians’ pueblo architecture can be made. Two steel towers inside provide counterpoint to the primarily wooden structure. The perimeter outline of the retreat is based on 18th century military European fortification plans.
Outside, 125 wooden poles—menhirs—radiate in eight lines, pinwheel fashion. The elevation of the tops of these poles is constant, highlighting the gentle slope of the Midwestern landscape. The mound form once again suggests a Native American presence, this time the mound building peoples of Cahokia in southern Illinois.