This year is the 100th birthday celebration year for the National Park Service and all 420 parks, including our own Weir Farm. Each park will be having special celebrations. Weir Farm featured a family-based BioBlitz in May and will also unveil their seven, life-sized, artistic bison for the first time.
Weir Farm rangers, Michelle Stewart and Cassie Warner, are given credit for coming up with the idea of the artistic bison.
“Cassie, who now works for the park system in Philadelphia, and I thought that we needed an idea that would combine the smaller parks in the East with the larger, more well-known parks out West. If you look at our shirt patches you will see the bison represented, so we decided to use this symbol as the basis for our project. Then, since we are one of only two artistically based parks in the nation, we decided to focus on the art of Alden Weir, Mahonri Young, Albert Ryder and Sperry Andrews.”
Today when you stroll through the fields of Weir Farm you will see the following seven historic paintings adhered to life sized bison and placed in the area that inspired the works of art: Upland Pasture and The Palace Car (Weir), Weir’s Orchard (Ryder), Rowan and Branchville Shed (Young) and Weir House and Weir Preserve (Andrews).
You will also see several baby bison on the grounds near their parents, but without any art work. The works of art were selected by the curatorial staff under the direction of Dolores Tirri.
The bison were constructed in the Gilbert and Bennett maintenance facility under the direction of Ranger Kevin Monthie. Assisting Monthie were Ranger Clinton Dietrich and volunteers Bob Fox and Ben Shaw.
“We started the project by using a life-sized bison pattern to cut out the animal in four sections from a special plywood board. We then sent the bison, in pieces, to a company that was able to use a special adhesive to implant the artwork on the bison. When the bison, now covered with artwork were returned, we painted the backs andthen placed them in the ground through a system involving two steel pipes,” Shaw said.
“I was so impressed when I first saw the artistic bison return. I had no idea they would be so beautiful. My favorite bison show the thrashing machine and the garden shed. Looking at these works in a different presentation form and in the actual area of inspiration, brings new life to the project,” Shaw said.
The staff at Weir Farm is extremely proud of their centennial project. Many of the park projects will be similar, but this one is entirely different and not being done by any other park. They hope that the bison will draw more people to the park and to the work of the four artists on display.
The unique artistic bison display will available to the public until the end of October, so put a bison visit to Weir Farm on your calendar as a “must see.”