For much of September, Beth Korth, Art Education Coordinator at Tippet Rise, served as Emerging Artist-in-Residence at Blackfoot Pathways: Sculpture in the Wild in Lincoln, Montana. During her three-week residency, Beth created an installation that will remain a permanent part of the 26-acre sculpture park. She also gave lectures and led workshops.
Established in September of 2014, Blackfoot Pathways celebrates the cultural, environmental, and industrial heritage of the Blackfoot Valley in northwestern Montana. The park has commissioned internationally-known artists—from Denmark’s Jorn Ronnau to Patrick Dougherty—to create site-specific works using materials, natural and industrial, from the region.
Beth first came to Sculpture in the Wild as an intern in 2016 after receiving her MFA from the University of Montana in Missoula. Five years later, she says, “it was an incredible opportunity for me to not only return to this wonderful park and community, but to also have the opportunity to leave something behind.”
Beth’s project, a colorful mural depicting native and migratory bird species recorded in the park, now encompasses an 80 by 8.5-foot CONEX box. The mural is “a burst of bright and active energy,” she says. To complete the mural, Beth worked with students from Lincoln’s high school who added their own bird creations to parts of it.
The finished work features thirty-eight painted birds. Ten of them were created by her students. The rest, painted by Beth, depict the various species seen in the park throughout the year.
“They’re not perfect or scientific illustrations of each species,” says Beth. “They are slightly off, not fully refined, and not to any scale. The representation has a looseness and illustrative quality that allows for onlookers to fill in any missing information with their own reference and truths.”
“I am so happy with the final work,” she says. “The box will serve as a workshop space for future artists.” It will also serve as a gathering place: two new tables sit in front of the box for guests to picnic and relax during their visit to Blackfoot Pathways.
The mural, Beth says, is dedicated to the people of Lincoln. “I have this community to thank for so many wonderful things in my life, including my beautiful family. (Beth met her husband while interning at the park in 2016.) “I hope that I contributed a creative space of growth, contemplation, and joy to the sculpture park.”
Congratulations to Beth, a familiar and beloved face to so many who visit Tippet Rise or benefit from her work in our region’s schools, and to Blackfoot Pathways: Sculpture in the Wild!
More images from Beth’s project are below.