Displaying a talent cultivated throughout his lifetime, Stan Herd’s aptly named “earthworks” are a uniquely rural form of art. His latest piece (a massive reformation of Van Gogh’s 1889 Olive Trees) sits in a field in Eagan, Minneapolis, gaining worldwide attention. The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, home of the original painting, commissioned Herd to complete this piece to celebrate their centennial anniversary. Entirely composed of dirt, rocks and plants, it is a fitting tribute to Van Gogh himself, who often chose to depict scenes of rural life and the natural world using plant matter as painting materials.
Taking traditional ideas of what an artist’s canvas should be, and throwing them out the window, Herd composes his images into the earth. He begins by establishing a grid pattern of the image he wants to create and then trims the pattern into the land. He then digs along these trimmed lines, and plants new vegetation in strategic areas to accentuate features and form his images. This is a time intensive and laborious process but the final result is an extraordinary sculpture in the earth.
This year-long project is yet another addition to his list of massive crop artworks in countries across the globe, from Australia to Japan. There is a film, entitled Earthworks based on Herd’s life story and creative form of expression. Known as the “Father of Crop Art,” Herd and his fresh works provide a valuable platform for discussions revolving around art and the environment, and his latest piece is nothing less than a stunning contribution.