The Staff of Asclepias is a social and environmental sculpture
conceived by artist Erik DeLucaduring
his stay at the Corsicana Artist & Writer Residency (also known as 100W), which
offers residencies to artists and writers from around the world. DeLuca worked with several members of the Corsicana community
to design a series of way stations for the monarch butterfly. The monarch is
the Texas state insect and has fascinated DeLuca since he arrived in Texas.
converted the Samuels Building, an 1880s mercantile building two blocks from
100W, into a nursery for milkweed. Because monarch caterpillars feed exclusively
on the plant, adult butterflies migrating north from Mexico in the spring depend
on it to lay their eggs. The growing scarcity of milkweed in the wild has
contributed to a drastic 80% decrease in the monarch population. The milkweed DeLuca
raised – some 1,000 plants – has been distributed to land at the Hebrew
Cemetery in Corsicana and to Sweet Pass Sculpture Park. The exhibit title
references the scientific genus of the milkweed, Asclepias.
exhibition at the ANTEROOM, a window gallery across the street from 100W,
includes a sample table with milkweed and a magenta grow light from the Samuels
Building nursery and a rendition of the song Sunrise, Sunset from Fiddler
on the Roof playing at dusk and dawn. The exhibition at Sweet Pass
Sculpture Park includes some 300 of the milkweed plants raised by the artist,
which he invited people to plant at the park in early June in accordance with
social distancing measures. The milkweed garden is accompanied by a time-based
light and sound installation that plays daily at sunrise and sunset. It
includes the same rendition of the song at the ANTEROOM and a 100-plus-foot horizontal
white LED light sculpture suspended above the ground, invoking the staff of
Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine and healing. The north-south line of the light
sculpture gestures toward the monarchs’ migratory path from Mexico to Canada
while conveying ideas of prosperity, health and rejuvenation.
said the project exemplifies the Pollock Gallery’s goal of expanding its
programming beyond its walls to provide additional opportunities for SMU art
students and the community to broaden their understanding of public art and
“The Staff of Asclepias isambitious in both scale and impact,” said Bastidas. “It engages with
questions of migration and the powerful indirect interactions that can control
entire ecosystems. DeLuca’s endeavor to place nature’s patterns at the center
of his work offers a new possibility of solidarity, as he dedicates his
practice to the service and understanding of vital non-human networks.”
Images: 1-2-3 Kyle Hobratschk, 4-5 Trey Burns, 6-7 Finn Jubak.
The Staff of Asclepias is accompanied by a publication with
contributions by DeLuca and Bastidas, as well as by SMU visiting lecturer in
art Tamara Johnson and Trey Burns, founders of Sweet Pass Sculpture Park, and SMU
art alumnus Kyle Hobratschk (’11). The
publication was produced by RISO BAR and designed by Juliette Kang.
DeLuca is an artist and musician working with performance, sculpture, text and
social practice. He has lectured, performed and exhibited at a variety of
places including MASS MoCA, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, The
Contemporary Austin, The Living Art Museum (Iceland), Columbia School of the
Arts, Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture, CalArts, Bemis Center for
Contemporary Arts, Fieldwork: Marfa, Yale University School of Art, and
Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church in New York City. He received a Ph.D.
from the University of Virginia and held visiting professorships at the Iceland
University of the Arts (2016-18) and Brown University (2018-20).
is a window-front gallery across the street from the entrance of the Corsicana
Artist & Writer Residency (100W). The gallery hosts work relevant to 100W’s
evolving narrative, which is shaped by 100W’s residents and studio spaces and
the small-town environment of Corsicana, Texas. ANTEROOM is positioned in front
of a printmaking and drafting studio, which is in front of a domestic room used
occasionally for gallery entertaining, which opens into a back patio. For more
information, visit the ANTEROOM website.
Sweet Pass Sculpture Park is an artist run exhibition space located on an acre lot in West Dallas,
TX. Programming highlights emerging and mid-career artists in an outdoor setting on a rotating
basis. Sweet Pass is a project by Tamara Johnson and Trey Burns.
Corsicana Artist & Writer Residency, located an hour south of Dallas at 100
W. 3rd Street in Corsicana (hence the name 100W), is a nonprofit international
residency for artists and writers, founded in 2012 by SMU Meadows art alumni
Kyle Hobratschk, Travis LaMothe, Adrienne Lichliter, Anna Membrino and David
Searcy. Large-scale, light-filled
rooms are provided alongside complete living accommodations and wood shop
access to foster work in visual art or writing. 100W provides open studio and
presentation events, student engagement activities, workshops, museum
partnerships, resident projects and publications and more. Due to its
popularity, the residency program is growing to include other sites in
is a publishing initiative and cooperative space that facilitates collaboration
and experimentation using risograph technology. It is designed for communal
gathering and collective learning between designers, artists, writers,
educators and students.