Bad Hair Day & Molting Makeover

By: Andrew McGivern, curator of exhibitions on July 26th, 2017

If you’ve visited the Woodson Art Museum during the past year, you’ve likely noticed near the main entrance the nearly thirty-foot-tall sculpture of a pair of dancing sandhill cranes made of tree saplings, tie-wraps, and plastic bags.

Andy Moerlein and Donna Dodson upon completion of The Dance in 2016.

The Dance was designed and built in June of 2016 by Massachusetts sculptors Donna Dodson and Andy Moerlein, otherwise known as The Myth Makers. They chose sandhill cranes because they are mythical birds, native to Wisconsin, and make good subjects for monumental sculpture.

Wind torn and tattered bags before the molt.

Bags are attached to the structure’s form with wire ties and are meant to represent feathers that rustle in the wind creating a rhythmic movement enlivening the stylized birds. Just as bird feathers wear out and need to be replaced, the plastic bags were shredding and disintegrating as sun and wind took its toll. Not unlike a bad hair day.

Andy McGivern and Kendra Voelz smiling for the camera.

After discussing the problem with Donna and Andy, we decided it was time for the crane pair to undergo a molt. New bags were ordered in three colors – white, tan and gray, then the arduous process of removing the old bags and replacing them with new bags began.

Hard at work.

Summer intern Kendra Voelz and summer helper Devon Burris assisted me, which made the job more enjoyable. We used ladders to reach the middle and upper levels of the wings, worked in the morning when it was cooler, and used the sculpture to shade ourselves from the sun. Together, we spent numerous days replacing old bags, slowly transforming The Dance into its new and improved look.

Watch this video to learn more about how The Dance was created and visit soon to see the results of the recent molting makeover.

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