"LIFE RAFTS", ECO-HABITATS, AND HEMLOCK CEREMON
Internationally recognized artist from Colorado, Lynne Hull, visited southwest Virginia in 1999 to conduct a three week- long community-based collaborative Mountain Lake Workshop sponsored by Virginia Tech’s Department of Art and Art History, The Wilderness Conservancy at Mountain Lake, and funds from the Virginia Commission for the Arts. This workshop was entitled “Environmental Habitats”, and engaged students and community members in craft-oriented, discipline-centered activities (gathering specific materials and treating them, weaving, carving, preparing ground, making structures, organic flotation devices, etc.) that utilized available natural materials to create (or simulate) natural animal habitats, as well as promote a greater awareness of the sensitive conditions of the natural environment.
Ms. Hull is a sculptor and installation-artist whose work specializes in constructing site-specific habitats for wildlife, often as the result of well-organized, collaborative workshops. Her workshop in September 39, 1999 focused on the construction of six floating-habitat public “Eco-sculptures”; at several pond sites. The artworks are non-permanent, biodegradable structures made of local natural materials, and are intended to function as habitats for local wildlife.
The art works will be temporary installations that will degrade naturally over a period of six months to a year or longer.
The workshop also included a special day of celebration at Mountain Lake to acknowledge the beauty of the native Hemlock trees - which are now threatened by a nation-wide invasion of the Wooly Adelgid aphid.
Why do we Celebrate the Hemlocks?
”Hemlock Celebration” culminates in three weeks of intense workshops focused on creating ecological awareness through the collaboration of art and science. During Hull’s residency it became clear that Mt. Lake’s pristine environment is threatened by an exotic aphid (small bug) known as the Wooly Adelgid. The Wooly Adelgid attaches to the underside of the hemlock needle and sucks the sap of the tree. At Mountain Lake Lodge The sculptures and banners hanging from the hemlock tree represent local animal species that the special community created. The objects
include birds, lizards, amphibians and insects. The blue banner and the white prayer flags hanging from the tree are illustrated with animal and plant species that also depend on Mt. Lake’s unique habitat. With one look the viewer becomes aware of the many lives that are affected by the changes in the lake’s ecology. “Hemlock Celebration” recognizes the wonderful and longstanding life of the hemlock tree in this region. Located high in an old tree standing on the edge of the lakeshore sits an owl perch and nesting platform. In Mt. Lake, a bio diversity life raft creates a sunning and nesting retention pond for amphibians, water fowl, and fish. For a limited time in the Virginia Tech Duck Pond, five habitat life rafts, were created by students under Hull’s direction. The life rafts were separated and relocated in 1999. One remained in the duckpond while others were relocated to the Virginia Tech landfill and other locations in Virginia.