Created By: Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District
Prairie Tree, 2017
Stainless Steel Kinetic Sculpture
Ned Kahn, Sebastopol, CA
Collection City of Minneapolis
Photo: Regina M. Flanagan
"On the northeast corner of 11th Street, Prairie Tree undulates and shimmers against the sky, engaging in a conversation with the city’s skyline and drawing our attention to wind and weather. The kinetic sculpture’s 2,300 stainless steel vanes respond to puffs of wind – on calm days, they resemble eddies of air passing over the surface of a lake or a field of tall grasses, and on windy days, they change directions like schools of fish buffeted by currents. This is Ned Kahn’s second work for Minneapolis; if you’ve visited Target Field, home of the Twins, you may have seen The Wave.
Kahn remarks, 'The mystery of this strange world we live in—we get used to it. We stop realizing how amazing it is, because it becomes commonplace. What can I do as an artist that can gently pop people out of that state of mind and get them to see differently or clearly, even just for an instant?'
Kahn has a background in environmental science and explores natural phenomena through his art. But his works are not just celebrations of nature – they are inspired by aspects of science. He began his career as an artist when he apprenticed to scientist Frank Oppenheimer at the Exploratorium Museum in San Francisco and went on to serve 17 years in the museum’s famous artist-in-residence program. Kahn works experimentally, trying things and making prototypes. He says, 'ninety percent of what I do is try things that give nature an opportunity to surprise me.' "
This point of interest is part of the tour: Nicollet Public Art Tour