Ordinary Vikings, an art installation in the bur oak savanna by Minnesota artist Jill Johnson, explores the question “Are we still tribal 1000 years after the last Viking axe was thrown?” Johnson wanted visitors of Nordic descent to probe current connections to their heritage, 200 years after descendants left Europe for America. Using a form of “bog stav” sculpture, a Scandinavian folk art form in which human faces carved from wood are mounted on trees, Johnson made beeswax castings of Minnesota Swedish Americans, including some individuals who live near Cedar Creek, to create the sculptures. Found tree branches became bodies and the resulting figures were then suspended from bur oak trees in Cedar Creek’s oak savanna ecosystem. The sculptures swayed under the open canopy of the savanna trees and in the sunlight appeared luminous and alive.
An article about “Ordinary Vikings” in ArtsPulse can be found here.