Monday, June 27, 2016

The Dance of the Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane Sculpture Graces the Grounds of the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum

The Dance, a towering sandhill-crane sapling sculpture, recently landed in Wausau Wisconsin. This monumental work of art was created by Boston artists Donna Dodson and Andy Moerlein, known as The Myth Makers, who build site-specific sculpture from ephemeral materials. For “The Dance,” Dodson and Moerlein were inspired by the way the seasonal migration of sandhill cranes to their Wisconsin nesting grounds marks the passage of time. The Myth Makers worked as artists in residence June 21-25, 2016 to complete this project.

As “The Dance” extended skyward, visitors observed, asked the artists questions, and decorated white, tan, or gray plastic bags, which the artists wove into the sculpture as plumage. The Myth Makers invited visitors to contribute “their own personal meaning and myths, reminding us all of seasonal changes and life’s rhythms” by marking bags to convey special summer family traditions. The Myth Makers’ residency is made possible by a generous contribution from the Genan Foundation.

The Myth Makers’ residency included the following public programs:
-Extra Terrific Toddler Tuesday: Crane Craft & Striking Poses, June 21, 10:30 a.m.-Noon – Little ones, 18 months-4 years, siblings, and accompanying adults sampled art making and movement-themed stations inspired by “The Dance” under construction. They also took in a family yoga session led by a 5 Koshas Yoga and Wellness instructor.

-Monumental Sculpture: From Idea to Execution, Tuesday, June 21, 5:30-6:30 p.m. – As “The Dance” took shape, participants joined The Myth Makers for insights into their site-specific sculpture and a discussion of their creative process. All ages were welcome.

-Making the Myth: Teen/Adult Creative Writing Workshop, Wednesday, June 22, 5:30-6:30 p.m. – Dodson and Moerlein led a series of short creative writing exercises, utilizing a range of texts and stories as inspiration. Participants discussed the origins and meanings of diverse cultural myths and create their own stories with guidance from The Myth Makers. Read some of the creative myths.

-Sculpt with Saplings, Thursday, June 23, 4:30-6 p.m. – All ages dropped in to create their own miniature crane sculptures from bendable branches, guided and inspired by Donna Dodson and Andy Moerlein.

-Art Beyond Sight, Saturday, June 25, 10:30 a.m.-Noon – Individuals with low-vision or blindness are invited to experience the Museum’s new site-specific avian sculpture through conversation, hands-on investigation, and art making with The Myth Makers and Woodson educators.

The Dance of the Sand-hill Crane is a tango of anticipation and a timeless romance. 
- The Myth Makers, Donna Dodson and Andy Moerlein

"When we hear the call of the sand-hill crane we hear the trumpet in the orchestra of evolution. Amid the endless mediocrity of the commonplace, a crane holds a paleontological patent of  nobility."
Aldo Leopold

Update: Laura Schulte, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin covered this story in the Wausau Daily Herald on June 20, 2016, Artists to build live sculpture in Wausau. Becky Meyer covered this story in City Pages: The Wausau Area News and Entertainment Weekly in the June 16-23, 2016 issue, Artists in Residence: The Myth Makers. Laura Schulte, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin covered this story in the Wausau Daily Herald on June 27, 2016, Woodson's newest sculpture rises. The Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum created a video of the complete project, The Myth Makers on "The Dance," Jeff Eaton aka Random Button Pusher created an inspiring video on Youtube,"The Dance" at Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum."


  1. On behalf of the Woodson Art Museum, it was our great pleasure to welcome The Myth Makers as artists in residence. "The Dance" -- and the residency -- exceeded our expectations in so many ways. We are thrilled to provide a home for the inspiring, towering sculpture for many months. With thanks, Kathy and the entire Woodson Art Museum staff

    1. Thank you Kathy!
      -The Myth Makers

    2. The Myth Makers are blushing.

      It was REALLY fun working with the remarkable Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum team. And it was a honor to meet some of the visionary family that created this legacy as well.