An art project turns garbage into art at the heart of Rochester’s Post Bulletin

ROCHESTER – At first glance, the field of sculpture outside the Rochester Center for the Arts seems natural.

A closer look reveals that the shapes on top of the hundreds of wooden spindles are actually garbage – plastic and foam taken from the Mississippi River.

However, each piece was shaped by nature, as wear and tear in the natural environment was inflicted on them before they were taken out of the water by artist Presley Martin.

The work is the latest and largest installation of Martin’s current project “98% Air”.

So far, Martin has collected and invested more than 9,000 pieces of river foam in the work.

Part of an ongoing art project, “98% Air” by Minnesota artist Presley Martin, on display at the Rochester Art Center on June 12, 2022. This work is one of about 20 in Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin as part of Franconia. The project of the 4Ground biennial of Sculpture Garden.

John Molsid / Post Bulletin

Martin also assembles trail markers with some of the debris he collected from the riverbank. The markers look like a pile of stones. Some are on display at the art center.

It is suitable for installation overlooking the River Zumbro on the west side of the Rochester Art Center. This water is directed to the Mississippi to the east.

He came to Rochester through the first project of the Franconia Sculpture Garden 4Ground Biennale.

One of the goals of the project is to increase the popularity of art organizations, artists and environmental organizations. Franconia also eavesdrops on groups advocating for indigenous and local peoples, and works to involve artists from these communities.

“We really want people to go to places they don’t normally go and learn about the history of people and the earth,” said Ginger Porcella, CEO and chief curator of the Franconia Sculpture Garden.

Most of the 4Ground installations are outdoors and many of them are on water, which according to Porcela is part of the project idea.

“It just makes people think about the impact people have on the earth and think about what they can do,” she said.

4Ground Presley Martin 08.JPG

Part of an ongoing art project, “98% Air” by Minnesota artist Presley Martin, on display at the Rochester Art Center on June 12, 2022. This work is one of about 20 in Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin as part of Franconia. The project of the 4Ground biennial of Sculpture Garden.

John Molsid / Post Bulletin

The Rochester outdoor installation is one of 17 currently on display as part of the 4Ground project. Most are in Minnesota, and some are in North Dakota and Wisconsin. The full map can be seen on the 4Ground website, 4groundbiennial.org.

Most of the sculptures and art installations will be ready from June to August, Porcela said.

“Most of them are meant to be ephemeral in nature,” she said.

Porcelain has also personally visited all of them so far, she added.

She said she liked the song “98% Air” and its resemblance to something found in nature.

“It’s great to see him move in the breeze,” she said.

“It’s been a long time, but this is my baby, and somehow I did it,” she said.

Planning for the next project has already begun with the addition of more sites in Wisconsin, as well as the addition of at least one in South Dakota.

The 4Ground project is likely to continue, but given the time and logistics of setting up art installations with various organizations in the upper Midwest, it will take place every two years.

People who are interested in Martin’s work can hear about it directly from the artist. He will be at the art center to tour his work and talk about the exhibition, Sunday, June 26, 2022.

What: Presley Martin Conversation with artists

When: 11:30 a.m., June 26, 2022

Where: Rochester Art Center, 30 Civic Center Drive.

How much: Free

4Ground Presley Martin 02.JPG

Part of an ongoing art project, “98% Air” by Minnesota artist Presley Martin, on display at the Rochester Art Center on June 12, 2022. This work is one of about 20 in Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin as part of Franconia. The project of the 4Ground biennial of Sculpture Garden.

John Molsid / Post Bulletin

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