Monument: Ongoing Organic Art

A simply beautiful monument lives on the campus of California State University, Bakersfield. It is called Ground Owl/Ground Squirrel Park, and is an ongoing art piece (1978-present) by Maria Nordman with George Ketterl.

The WordPress Weekly challenge prompt this week is monument. I chose the 5th meaning in for monument:

An area or a site of interest to the public for its historical significance, great natural beauty, etc., preserved and maintained by a government.
In 1978, a Los Angeles artist, Maria Nordman with faculty member George Ketterl and his students, created an organic sculpture that is considered ongoing… groupings of living trees.
Ground Owl/Ground Squirrel Park, Sequoia oval, photo ©Meghan Deinhard 2011

Ground Owl/Ground Squirrel Park, double Sequoia oval, photo ©Meghan Deinhard 2011


Ground Owl/Ground Squirrel Park, Ginkgo quad, photo ©Meghan Deinhard 2011

I took these photos on March 16, 2011 in the early morning light. They are some of the oldest trees on campus. I love how the winter Ginkgos and Sequoias are gently sun-kissed.

In 1978 she [Maria Nordman] executed Ground Owl/Ground Squirrel Park in Bakersfield, across from California State College. The oval ring of an unpaved footpath about six meters wide is encompassed by a double row of sequoia trees. The inner area of the oval remains as uncultivated and available to the local flora and fauna as the surrounding area. A second, quadratic footpath of packed local soil, surrounded by Ginkgo trees, itself surrounds a cultivated lawn extending on the outside to an area of 30 x 30 m. Here it is not only art and nature that are interrelated in a differentiated way, but also the gradations of “cultivated” and “uncultivated” nature – gradations which in turn connect up with the further gradation of nature formed by art. Here, everything – every level of the formed as well as the unformed – is contained in everything: the boundaries of “art” have been dissolved.

~Erich Franz

I wish I had been there in 1978 to watch the creation… trees so small at that time, yet so rich and full now. I feel fortunate I was able to walk in these monumental sculptures when I worked on campus. My only regret is not taking photos from inside the living art.

As always I welcome your comments on this or any other part of my blog.


4.11.14 WordPress Photo Theme is Monument

4.11.14 WordPress Photo Theme is Monument


4 thoughts on “Monument: Ongoing Organic Art

  1. Meghan Post author

    It really is. And I think what’s funny is that many people on the campus don’t even realize that’s what they are!

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