Take Five with Laumeier's Marilu Knode: Mother's Day offers sneak peek at 'Camp Out'
Just like Dorothy discovered in the Land of Oz, there’s no place like home. But home can mean a lot of things. And many people don’t even have one.
Mother's Day Art Fair
When: 6-10 p.m. May 11; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. May 12; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. May 13
Where: 12580 Rott Rd., 63127
How much: $8 adults, $5 children 6-11
'Camp Out: Finding Home in an Unstable World'
When: 5-7 p.m. June 2 preview; runs through Sept. 16
Where: 12580 Rott Rd., 63127
How much: Free
What's to come
Visitors to this weekend’s 25th annual Mother's Day art fair at Laumeier sculpture park will get a glimpse of “Camp Out: Finding Home in an Unstable World,” three weeks before the exhibition opens June 2. The unorthodox display of temporary shelter as art examines the nature of where we live and how we use land.
Art lovers strolling Laumeier’s 105 acres may be surprised by a dumpster overflowing with drawers, a balloon-shaped tent in a tree and even a flock of chickens. It’s all part of the “Camp Out” concept, which marries several existing sculptures to those of 10 artists from places as close as Chicago and as far as the Netherlands, including two video works and a photo series.
And what about those chickens? Well, they’re needed for the eggs to be served at a meet-the-neighborts potluck for those living near the park, according to Laumeier executive director of three years, Marilu Knode.
“Our neighbors all know about Laumeier but we don’t know them,” Knode said.
The Beacon talked with Knode about the ideas behind this exhibit, which investigates the themes of home -- and homelessness.
Beacon: Where did the idea for “Camp Out” originate?
Knode: When I first got here, I spent a lot of time really thinking about what Laumeier was, where we’re located and the history of city of St. Louis. We wanted to do exhibitions that are rooted in some way in the kinds of experiences our audience has had so that we can have artists amplify that experience.
With “Camp Out,” I was thinking a lot about the fact that we are surrounded by large, beautiful homes with large lawns, and yet I know people don’t really use their yards that much. When I was a kid, we would camp out from time to time but what does it mean? Some people camp out because they have the beautiful tents and expensive sleeping bags and, if you’re lucky, you get to think about camping out as a very exquisite experience.
But for the people in Haiti, it’s not like that. So, if you’re not lucky, it's not something you’re happy about.
There are so many elements to this exhibition including Kim Yasuda’s hunting and gathering of eggs and vegetables for the potluck. Is it all art or is it something else as well?
Knode: There is a very long continuum of artistic practice. The idea of an individual genius living in the studio is an old-fashioned idea. Of course, there are some people who work that way and they get great joy from doing that. But we’ve seen two, three, four generations of artists taking their work out into the streets and really directly engaging with popular culture.
Since the Dadaists in the early 20th century, the crossover between theater and the visual arts has been pretty close. I would say Kim Yasuda is really a social action artist. A phrase they use in academia is “action research.” It’s really about investing in artistic research and giving it the kind of legitimacy that the sciences have.
Can people really sleep in the Treetent?
Knode: These are actual, usable tents. The artist has just installed four in a campground in Belgium, and they use them every night.
What about the one at Laumeier?
Knode: St. Louis County Parks doesn’t allow people to camp out. But we’ll have two events this summer -- one, in June, is a kids’ campout and the other, in September, is for adults -- where people can spend the night in the park.
The Sept. 8 event is a fundraiser for Laumeier. In order to spend the night in park, you pay $75, and we’re going to raffle off the right for one couple to spend the night in the Treetent.
What do you hope visitors take home from this exhibition?
Knode: We want to really highlight the gorgeous landscape we live in, and of course, we want people to appreciate even more the great place we live in, in St. Louis.
But we also want them to remember there are many people in our midst who aren’t as fortunate as we are to have a home and a community -- so what role does each of us play in creating a community?