Earthen Bridge Reconstructed
Sculpture: Earthen Bridge Reconstructed
Artist: Brian Rust
Brian Rust is a Professor of Art at Augusta State University in Augusta, GA. His work ranges from drawings and collages, to wood sculpture, to outdoor installations. For more information or to contact Brian, visit his website: www.aug.edu/~brust/.
Brian Rust, 2006
The rebuilding of Earthen Bridge (first created in 1996) came after a long tenure of weather and wear in the South Carolina Botanical Garden. Time had certainly taken its toll. The annual flow of rain and foot traffic had greatly eroded the earthen walls and floor of the bridge. The garden staff recognized the need to keep the bridge as part of their nature-based sculpture program and as part of the hiking trails. My being invited back to re-envision the project gave me the opportunity to expand on the original idea of a bridge and to refine the metaphor of the architectural ruin within the garden setting.
I visited the Garden often over the last 10 years with my students from Augusta State University and each time I asked myself what I would have changed about the original Earthen Bridge. It is always part of artist’s process to question and search for other solutions to a design but it is so rare for an artist to get that opportunity. When I was invited back in 2006 to rework Earthen Bridge, I saw it as a chance to explore new possibilities for an already existing sculptural work. The alterations I undertook were not about change for its own sake but rather to enhance the parts that worked with the first bridge and to try some other ideas for areas that did not stand the test of time.
With the diligent assistance of the garden staff, volunteers and Clemson University students, I rebuilt the bridge itself and extended the rammed earth elements on both sides of the walking path adjacent to the structure. We also increased the density of plantings all around the area to further root the structures into the landscape. As the new manifestation of the bridge (now titled Earthen Bridge Reconstructed) settles into the environment, it will start its slow transition and interaction with the forces of nature in South Carolina. As a sculptor investigating the themes of continuity, change and renewal within the genre of nature-based art, the South Carolina Botanical Garden continues to be such a valuable resource for such exploration. It is a truly a place for inspiration and reflection.