Collaboration is a main tenet of our work at Franconia Sculpture Park. Here at Franconia, artists at all stages of their careers break new ground, take risks, and create with others. We believe that collective efforts rooted in mutual respect bring about greater achievement through shared learning. The ambitious artwork on view at Franconia is the result of this collaborative spirit, created through many helping hands, from technical support provided by staff to the meals prepared each evening when artists gather to prepare and cook together.
Likewise, many of Franconia’s arts learning programs are created and sustained through collaborative partnerships with mission-driven organizations and supporters. Today, these collaborations have evolved into partnerships fortified through shared values of the important role that arts can play in our community. True to character, we build collaborative arts learning programming with regional St. Croix Valley, East Central Minnesota, and Minneapolis-St. Paul metro-based organizations to ensure we are touching people from all walks of life with our passion for three-dimensional artwork. By leveraging the community’s creative potential, these collaborative efforts culminate in meaningful arts experiences for all participants and foster connections between people. By providing a forum for the community to experience the arts in a tangible way, collaborative artistic expression can flourish and deepen the sense of place.
Already this year, there are exciting projects currently underway with partner organizations, with more to come throughout the summer and fall. In early June, youth from Osceola, WI, converged at Franconia for an artist-led guided tour and sculpture-making workshop where students left with wildly creative sculptures constructed under the guidance of Franconia’s artists-in-residence.
This group of youth is participating in a four-week long building project to construct an artfully designed public bench that will be sited in downtown Osceola for the entire community to enjoy and use. We kicked off this exciting community project by providing an introduction to sculptural techniques and processes, teaching arts vocabulary, and sharing concepts and ideas behind the work on exhibition here at the park. The Osceola Bench Project is part of the St. Croix River Valley Art Bench Trail, a project spear-headed by the Phipps Center for the Arts to encourage artful exploration of our scenic river valley, bench by bench. In fact, one of the first benches created for the trail, a project titled Rock & River, is located in St. Croix Falls, WI and was produced through a collaboration between Franconia, local youth, artist Jim Shoop, and the Phipps.
Last week the Franconia team headed to the St. Croix Falls Public Library to hold a workshop where we built sculptures inspired by the ‘Read Local’ theme and cow mascot for the library this summer. Using a plethora of found objects and hand tools, participants created a colorful variety of three-dimensional interpretations of the farm animal form. This workshop was held in conjunction with the installation of the sculpture Woven Heart by artist and former Franconia staff Jason Bord. The sculpture marks the second artwork that Franconia has installed at the St. Croix Falls Public Library. If you haven’t yet, stop by and see the ‘mini-sculpture park’ the library is working on downtown!
These partnerships and collaborative projects are meaningful opportunities for Franconia to extend our commitment and passion for three-dimensional arts beyond the perimeter of the 30-acre sculpture park. Through our outreach programming, in collaboration with many other community development initiatives currently underway, we are collectively supporting the development of socially, culturally, and economically vibrant places enhanced through the creative expression of people of all ages, cultures, and abilities.
One young participant from the Osceola Bench Project left this note of gratitude in our donation box last week. It’s heartfelt gestures like this that remind us of the impact that programs such as this can have in nurturing the next generation of artists.