Welcome to the first post in our series of featured artists who make art out of, or about, our favorite topic: Dirt!
Common Ground 191 is a large scale art project by artist Gary Simpson. His vision involves creating a large series of 196 abstract panels created with a mixture of soil collected from 192 countries.
I asked Gary to write a few words about his project, Common Ground 191, and this is what he had to say:
“I began this art project in early 2002. It involves collecting soil from each country in the United Nations that now total 193. The plan is to mix the soil in a cement blend and place on 196 panels, each measuring 42″ by 42″. Placed together in a square configuration it will measure 50′ by 50′ or side by side, 700 feet in length. My recent visit to North Korea completes the soil collection phase of the project. I am now busy working on a 1/14 scale model of the panels as the hope of production moves on.
I have been asked if I knew then what I know now about the work involved, would I have started?—the answer would be “probably not”. Many hours, many dollars and wonderful support leads me to say now–”what an adventure”.
Behind the physical fact that each piece will include part of each country, integrated into the individual complexion of the piece lays the foundation of my concept as a whole. It is composed like the Earth itself, of visible masses floating off tectonic plates converging and diverging. The magma on which they all rest is common ground. The individual pieces will reflect the identity of each nation, but the implication of the whole is that there is underlying unity. Just as plate boundaries don’t always correspond to continents, so too are national boundaries an artifact of human history. And just as the geography of the Earth is changing through plate tectonics, this project expresses the necessity of change and unifying wisdom of the process. ”
Here is video of Gary’s last soil gathering trip to North Korea.
If you know of any artists who are working with dirt, please let us know.