4Ground was designed over a year and a half with community conversations….artists, museums, environmentalists, and tribal groups…came up with a festival that celebrated shared values…

Ginger Porcella

Executive Director & Chief Curator, Franconia Sculpture Park

We headed north to chat with Ginger Porcella of the Franconia Sculpture Park, we connected about their inaugural contemporary art festival 4Ground: Midwest Land Art Biennial taking place June-August 2022. We talked about artist projects, programming, multi venue events and how to get involved and attend.

Featured Photo Credit: Alex Young – Monument to the Common Barberry
Photo Credit: Marlena Myles – Dakota Spirit Walk

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Transcript

Amy Gabay 00:00
This podcast is brought to you by People’s Food Co Op, a community owned grocery store in downtown La Crosse, Wisconsin and Rochester, Minnesota that promotes local farmers and producers through an emphasis on fresh, healthy, sustainable food. Anyone can shop, everyone is welcome. For more information, visit them online at PFC.coop. This podcast is also brought to you by Trempealeau County Tourism. Whether your idea of fun is bicycling, hiking or canoeing, afterwards head into the heart of one of their welcoming communities to experience historic architecture, independent shops and locally owned dining establishments. Visit Trempealeau County Tourism online. Artspire is back with a full weekend of art at the Pump House Regional Arts Center. Enjoy live music from Cloud Cult, Bill Miller and B2wins, plus a fine art fair, interactive art projects, and visual and performing arts June 10th through 11th. Learn more at artspire@thepumphouse.org. We headed north to chat with Ginger Porcella of the Franconia Sculpture Park, we connected about their inaugural contemporary art festival 4Ground: Midwest Land Art Biennial taking place June-August 2022. We talked about artist projects, programming, multi venue events and how to get involved and attend. You can find more conversations, food reviews, live music and events on our website lacrosselocal.com. I’m Amy.

Brent Hanifl 01:29
I’m Brent.

Amy Gabay 01:30
And this is lacrosselocal.com.

Ginger Porcella 01:32
My name is Ginger Sheila Porcella. I’m the Executive Director and Chief Curator of Franconia Sculpture Park, and also the Founder and Co-Curator of the upcoming 4Ground: Midwest Land Art Biennial.

Brent Hanifl 01:45
Just kind of learning about this, this is going to be the inaugural contemporary art festival. It’s from June through August. What is it all about?

Ginger Porcella 01:54
Yeah 4Ground was really designed over a year and a half with community conversations with a bunch of different partners, artists, museums, environmentalists, tribal groups. And we wanted to come up with a festival that really celebrated values that we all share, celebrated the Upper Midwest and the art and nature of the region. So taking place this June, July and August 2022, the inaugural festival, people will be able to go on self guided road trips to see site specific land art, and also learn about the history of the land, the people that have lived there for generations. There’s going to be tons of events, more than 30 free public programs happening all summer. So it’s a sort of choose your own adventure.

Brent Hanifl 02:45
Looking at this, you know, your website, which you have a website specifically for it 4groundbiennial.org. It looks like you have a ton of people involved. So I mean, it looks like you have 20 plus community partners. What kind of roles do each one of these groups play, or a few of them?

Ginger Porcella 03:00
Yeah, I mean, I wanted to develop something that was really co-curated and co-planned with the communities that they serve. I see a lot of festivals, and you know, events like this, where it’s a lot of plop art sort of placed into the communities and we wanted the art to really reflect the communities that the work was in. So really designed by and for the communities that they serve. So it’s very site specific. So all of those partners had a lot of input into what sort of art and artists that they wanted to work with. About 18 months of monthly community convening, where we talked about everything from marketing, from artists design to evaluating. And so it’s a really collaborative project from start to finish.

Brent Hanifl 03:48
So does this have ties to the native land art, I assume?

Ginger Porcella 03:52
Yes, so we are working with a number of contemporary Native artists whose work will be on display. There’s going to be a lot of resources on each site on different land art that is adjacent to those sites. So you can learn about land art that used to exist. Unfortunately, a lot of native land art in the Upper Midwest no longer exists, including the 1000s of burial mounds that used to be here that no longer exist. There are still some, but we want to raise awareness of that art that used to be here and really create a trajectory of the 10,000 year history of Native land art to land art being made today. So there’ll be sort of a continuous through line so you can learn about what used to be here and what artists are making now in response to that land art.

Brent Hanifl 04:40
Feeling through this website, too, you know, there are a number of artists’ projects. Is there any one that’s just, you know, I’m sure they’re all pretty cool.

Ginger Porcella 04:46
They’re all great.

Brent Hanifl 04:47
I mean, can you pick out a baby or can you pick one that’s interesting for you?

Ginger Porcella 04:52
There’s a few that I think are really interesting. I think Marlena Myles is an artist that I really admire. She’s a contemporary Dakotan artist. And she uses augmented reality to talk about the history of Dakotan land art and her people. And she goes to sites of native significance and creates augmented reality pieces. So it’s really accessible, anyone can go to the sites, and be able, using their phone on our free apps, to be able to pull up public art. And so she thinks about using augmented reality as a metaphor for Native people in general, like we’re here, but you may not be able to see us. So using these apps, so you go to say Indian Mounds Regional Park in St. Paul, our Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary in St. Paul, Minnesota, which are significant areas for Native people. And to be able to go there and then pull up these apps and see art and images. It’s really interesting. There’s another piece that I think is really exciting. And I’ve never worked with these artists before. I’m very excited. Anastasia Adams, and nibiiwakamigkwe, they are Native artists who are doing a traveling throat singing performance, where they’ll be setting up camp at various sites and performing and then sort of leaving a trace of their people and their performance at each of those sites. So their first performance will be at Rochester Art Center in June. And then there’ll be going to the Baldwin Conservancy in Afton in July, and then their final site will be at the Plains Art Museum in Fargo in August. So you can sort of follow along their journey. And I think that that will be a really interesting piece.

Brent Hanifl 06:40
Yeah, I mean, just going into your events calendar for the different projects, like you said, that one just totally stuck out with the throat singing, but there’s also you know, it’s kind of far and wide, you know, everything down to Kin Stone Sculpture Garden looks like art and poetry, dinners, discussions. You got a lot there.

Ginger Porcella 06:57
We wanted to, you know, engage people in different ways. I mean, we want to meet people where they’re at, right, so like, some people might just be interested in seeing the art and the installations. But if you want to dig a little deeper, if you want to meet the artists really get to know the sights and the people, you can go to any of these events. And for me, as a curator, I’m much more interested in the public programming aspect of things. And we wanted to create a festival that wasn’t just like, oh, you see the art, and you’re like, great, and then you leave, we wanted to bring people back to the sites to further engage them. And so I feel like that’s the most exciting part of it. A lot of times I think land art from an art historical context is really people think of it as like, you know, people moving land and you know, big piles of dirt. And we wanted to go much beyond that and challenge people to think about what land art really is. Sure, there’s going to be some art created with big piles of dirt. But there’s a lot more than that as well.

Brent Hanifl 08:03
How do people get connected with you, you know, either if they’re artists, they want to get involved or just find out more information about you?

Ginger Porcella 08:09
Yeah, I mean, it really was an organic process this first time. I mean, this is, as you’ve mentioned, the inaugural project, it’s really a pilot program. We’re already planning 2024 concurrently, so we don’t have to recreate the wheel in two years, and hopefully, it’ll be much easier to do two years from now. But it was really, it was a hybrid process, we had some artists in mind that we wanted to work with, we did an open call, which we will certainly be doing an open call for artists who want to participate for 2024. We’ll be launching that probably summer of 2023. So stay tuned for that, we’ll have it on the 4Ground website and on Frank County’s website. And so it was a little bit by invitation this first time around and by open call, because we didn’t frankly, know what we would get through the open call. But honestly, every submission was wonderful. We could have chosen all of those projects. We were really surprised and overwhelmed by the quality and how many people applied. So we’re planning on having many more sites and many more artists and 2024. And yeah, so you can get involved as a community partner, as an artist. There’s a way to contact us on the website. So if you’re interested in any capacity, just let us know. We’d love to work with you.

Brent Hanifl 09:24
You know, and also, you know, besides all these projects all around the Midwest, it looks like you have the sculpture park. That’s some, that’s a podcast in itself. But how do people find out more about that or do you have a little bio for it? Yeah, Franconia Sculpture Park, we’ve been around for 26 years. We’re located in Schaefer, Minnesota, just 45 minutes north of the Twin Cities. So it’s an easy drive up from the Twin Cities. We have about 100 sculptures on 50 acres. And honestly, the development of 4Ground came out of strategic planning and sort of retooling our mission at Franconia. Our mission is about the intersection of art and ecology, and so we wanted to create a festival that really announced to the world this new vision for the park. And Franconia itself will have about 20 installations for 4Ground at it alone. So it’s definitely a not to be missed sight as you plan your trip for 4Ground. And we’re creating a map specifically for that, that when you go to Franconia, you can go explore the park and find all of the land art. That’s at Franconia. And but yeah, we’re open 365 days a year, 8am to 8pm. And we have, you know, free public programs pretty much every weekend, Memorial Day through October so we’re busy and you won’t regret coming and visiting us. So what’s the best avenue for people to follow along?

Ginger Porcella 10:50
Definitely follow our Instagram @4Ground Biennial, or @franconiamn, which is our instagram and twitter and facebook. Or franconia.org, 4groundbiennial.org. Either will have all of the information that you want for Franconia or 4Ground and yeah, hopefully we see you at one of these events or one of these sites this summer.

Amy Gabay 11:18
La Crosse Local Podcast is a production of River Travel Media. Do you have an interview idea you’d like to share with us? Message us on Facebook at La Crosse local. Find out more about us at lacrosselocal.com and you can subscribe to the La Crosse Local Podcast on your favorite podcast app. If you like us, rate us five stars. We appreciate it.

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