The Springfield Art Museum is pleased to announce an expansive outdoor sculpture installation with Kansas City artist Shawn Bitters, in collaboration with the Springfield-Greene County Park Board. Burn Out, which was recently featured in Open Spaces Kansas City, was installed on the Museum's grounds and throughout nearby Phelps Grove Park on July 17 and will remain on view for one year. Bitters was a featured artist in the Museum's 2018 4x4: Midwest Invitational Exhibition.
The 23 screen-printed aluminum “stones” in Burn Out form a narrative; each rock is encoded, representing a letter, that when joined together, tell a story. The stones can be “read” by moving through the landscape. The title of the work references the “necessary destruction” of fire in certain landscapes such as the prairies of the Midwest. The shape of the stones is based on volcanic bombs – masses of molten rock that form when a volcano erupts.
Bitters’ work is concerned with environmentalism, the use of language, and personifying Earth's geologic structures. In other words, he seeks to give the Earth a voice and reveal what the Earth would say to us if it could speak. Curator of Art Sarah Buhr, who selected Bitters to represent Kansas in the 4x4 exhibition, knew she was interested in working with him again on a larger scale. “This work is important because Shawn is a regional artist engaging with our landscape and the realities of local climate change and weather extremes,” said Buhr.
Museum Director Nick Nelson notes, “We are excited to partner with Phelps Grove Park on this project as a way to link the Museum space with our surrounding environs through art. This is step toward the ideas laid out in our 30 Year Master plan. We want the public to start viewing the Museum and its surrounding amenities as one recreational campus with multiple experiences.”
Joining public art and outdoor recreation is also important to the Springfield-Greene County Park Board. "We are thrilled to partner with the Springfield Art Museum on this exciting installation,” said Bob Belote, Director of Parks. “We look for this collaboration to be the first of many that we share with the Art Museum at Phelps Grove and possibly other locations." The Museum and the Park Board would like to extend thanks to Shawn Bitters for his collaboration on this project.
The installation begins at the Museum’s amphitheater and moves west and north through Phelps Grove Park. Visitors with a QR reader on their mobile device can access the artist’s decryption key by scanning exhibit signage. Printed copies are available in the Museum’s lobby. Guided walking tours of the installation and an Artist Talk will be scheduled later this fall. The Springfield Art Museum is located at 1111 East Brookside Drive. Admission is always free. Donations are gratefully accepted.