Art Meets Nature in New Outdoor Sculpture Made of Natural Materials at the Brandywine

The Queen Anne's Lace PodThe Queen Anne's Lace Pod by Ian Stabler

CHADDS FORD, PA — A whimsical outdoor sculpture has sprung up on the Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art’s campus grounds for the summer. Now on view through November 7, the Queen Anne’s Lace Pod is a temporary, site-specific installation by Virginia-based artist Ian Stabler. Made entirely of natural materials gathered and found onsite, the towering sculptural pod is located in Potts Meadow along the Brandywine’s Harvey Run Trail in Chadds Ford, PA.

Stabler was commissioned by the Brandywine River Museum of Art as part of its ongoing sculptural program inviting artists to explore their responses to the local landscape. This is the fifth commissioned project in a series that has included Matthew Jensen’s Alongside Tall Grasses (2014), James Welling’s Gradients (2015), Dylan Gauthier’s highwatermarks (2017), and Kathleen Vance’s Brandywine River (2018).

Tying together the Brandywine’s dual mission of art and nature, the Queen Anne’s Lace Pod reflects Stabler’s response to the local countryside and his abiding interest in how art can be incorporated into the natural landscape. The artist’s initial inspiration for this project was a painting by the late artist George A. (“Frolic”) Weymouth—Brandywine’s co-founder—titled August (1974), which features a hill covered in Queen Anne’s Lace flowers.

August is my favorite of Frolic’s works and one that I have linked with the Brandywine River Museum of Art,” said Ian Stabler regarding his vision for this project. “I see the design of the structure both as an homage to this beautiful plant and to Frolic’s enduring legacy at the Brandywine. The design references the bloom’s form turned upside down so that the visitor enters into the crown itself, while the stalk of the plant rises above them into the sky. I envision the Pod as a place people can venture to and from, experiencing the beauty and diversity of the land.”

Stabler grew up in New York but frequently visited relatives in the Brandywine area since childhood. His deep affinity for the countryside and river contributed to his formation as a land artist and environmentalist. Stabler uses found wood and materials in his work to create ephemeral sculptures that reference and signify the land and landscapes from which they originate. For the Queen Anne’s Lace Pod, Stabler weaved together branches, sticks and leaves gathered throughout the Brandywine’s campus to create the walls and windows of the structure. A bench built inside the pod allows people to sit while viewing the meadow and sky through door and window openings.

In addition to the Queen Anne’s Lace Pod, the Museum’s campus grounds are home to five bronze sculptures, including Tipping Point (2019)—a recent addition by artist Rikki Morely Saunders that was unveiled at the Brandywine earlier this summer. The other bronze sculptures include Boy with Hawk (1971), by Charles Parks; Miss Gratz (1984), by J. Clayton Bright; Helen (1989), by André Harvey; and R. B. (2004), by Dan Ostermiller.

Following a temporary closure for renovations to its second and third floors, the Brandywine River Museum of Art reopened to the public on Sunday, June 20, 2021, with its new special exhibition, Ralston Crawford: Air & Space & War. On view through September 19, 2021, the exhibition explores U.S. aviation and military history through the art and personal experiences of American Modernist Ralston Crawford. The extensive collection of nearly 80 works on view by the artist includes drawings, photographs, paintings and lithographs from the 1940s that narrate Crawford’s involvement with aerospace and World War II. In addition to the new exhibition and building renovations, the Museum’s other galleries have also been refreshed with paint and rehung to include new acquisitions and loans, rarely seen works from the permanent collection, as well as many visitor favorites. Summer hours of operation are Wednesday-Monday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (closed Tuesdays). Tours of the N. C. Wyeth Historic House & Studio—a National Historic Landmark—will resume beginning August 4. Up-to-date information about visiting the Brandywine can be found at www.brandywine.org/now-open.

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