A new large-scale art installation glows when the wind blows.
Where once there was only cacti, brush and dusty trails behind Ent Center for the Arts, there now stands a forest of 2,000 8-feet-tall windmills. Patrick Marold’s “The Windmill Project” is perhaps best viewed under darker, breezier skies. Each windmill is capped with an anemometer, a device used for measuring wind speed and direction. A breeze will turn the small generators that in turn power LED downlights. The result? A field of floating lights that generates 5-8 kilowatts of energy.
“It’s inviting people to get into the evening landscape,” says the Nederland-based artist as he stands among his windmills on the scrubby hillside overlooking I-25 and Pikes Peak.
The installation, south of Pulpit Rock and west of the Heller Center at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, will be up for a year.
Marold’s windmill idea was conceived on a farm in Iceland, after receiving a Fulbright Fellowship in 2000. He found himself living near the Arctic Circle, where the wind and darkness vied for most uncomfortable element. His response to the environment was 200 to 250 windmills in the first incarnation of his “Windmill Project.” Since then, he’s traveled the installation to Vail and Burlington, Vt.
“I’m trying to capture something,” he says, referring to the wind, “even if it’s only for a moment.”
Marold, who grew up in Wheatridge and earned a bachelor of fine arts from Rhode Island School of Design, is keen to investigate our connection to the landscape, while taking a post-minimalist approach and emphasizing environmentalism. In 1998, he apprenticed under world-renowned environmental minimalist artist Andy Goldsworthy, a British artist famous for his outdoor ephemeral works that use natural materials.
Although Marold does make much smaller, gallery-friendly work, the bulk of his pieces are large-scale public art installations. He recently completed a commission for Denver International Airport called “The Shadow Array,” a huge sculptural installation featuring more than 250 large beetle-kill logs in the landscape of the airport’s southern expansion.
For Marold, the natural world was his first love as a child, and is now the well from which he draws his art.
“Most people take pictures,” he says. “The act of working tactilely with the land helps me process my relationship with the land. It resolves some of those compulsions. There’s a lot of play and experimenting.”
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