For this year’s Artist-Designed Mini Golf course we invited the University of Minnesota Art Department to design and build two of the holes. The course, led by professor Chris Larson, was tasked with developing several designs to present to a panel of Walker curators. The class was asked to document their process leading up to the opening of the course. Here is the first entry in their mini-golf journal.
Tuesday, January 22
Today, our class journeyed through -20 temperatures, across the tundra of Cedar-Riverside to the Mall of America for a game of mini golf. For some, it’s a completely new experience, others have already made hundreds of rounds putting through a mini-golf courses.
Thursday, January 24
We begin the process of creating our holes with a list of 10 words — 10 words a piece, to be exact, which results in over 160 terms and yields a plethora of ideas. Our word contributions were gathered, listed and put to a vote. The next step involved sorting the terms into groups to help inform the visual and conceptual aesthetic of our designs. Interesting ideas and contraptions were introduced as we did so: including moving steps, multiple platforms and elaborate labyrinths. Things are moving along.
Something was missing today. We had ideas, but time and time again the proposals seemed to amount to a clusterf**k of great ideas. You know what they say about too much of a good thing… After much discussion, Chris asked us to pause and think about what we really wanted to make: what’s the idea, the purpose, the story we’re after here? As we talked, we decided we’d been missing pinning down a central concept for our course.
So, back to the drawing board. We all loved what had been offered up so far, but to get any further in creating an actual course we’ve got to let some things fall away. Like Tupac or Crocs, all great ideas must come to an end, I guess. We split into groups, each one charged with brainstorming potential concepts, but this time we try to focus more on the narrative of our designs, and what it represents and contributes to the whole course. We break our small-group mass of ideas down to four main concepts: The Cycle, Garden History, The Mega golf, and The Ames room.
Thursday, February 14
Valentines Day is here, and so are the formal presentations of our four concepts. We were sent home to sketch ideas for each one, at which time we found that some ideas synced up very well with one another, others overlapped too closely, and a couple needed more concrete thinking behind them. At this point, we realize there’s still a lot of work to do; but we have limited time to present our courses (the deadline’s just a few days away!) and too many things to tackle. We split up into groups to develop the ideas further. No time for finding love — it’s crunch time.
We meet in groups to finish the proposals. We begin to flesh out what each concept needs: we build models, sketch plans and make slides for presentation. It is concrete. It is substantial. We feel like we’re close to realizing our ideas and ready to show them off… almost.
Tuesday, February 19
The day of the the Walker presentations is here (a.k.a. we have an hour left to finish our presentations). We’re all feeling some nervous excitement as we gear up to show our proposals. We come in at 8 am, an hour earlier than our normal class time, to put on the finishing touches and assemble our PowerPoints; we finish some sanding on The Ames room model. Soon after, we split up to head over to the Walker, where we all gather in the Lecture Room. After all this planning – it’s showtime!
We’re making our presentations to the following committee:
Scott Stulen, Project Director, mnartists.org
Jehra Patrick, Project Coordinator, mnartists.org
Siri Enberg, Curator, Visual Art
Sarah Schultz, Curator of Public Practice and Education Director
Cameron Zebrun, Director, Program Services
Doc Czypinski, Carpenter/Exhibition Technician
Introductions are made and we present our course designs to the panel. After a suspenseful wait outside, while the committee discusses our proposals, we find out they’ve selected our concepts for The Mega Golf course and The Ames Room!
Thursday, February 21
Now that we have our two confirmed hole designs, it’s time to go over the models and start developing the physical ideas for construction. The holes are going to be amazing…. so long as it all works. What, at first, just seemed fun is turning into a heavy amount of time spent calculating dimensions and measurements. We’re using 3D modeling programs, hand drawings, and material structures to concretize our ideas.
Ames Room- the illusion behind the magic and wonder of the Ames Room — the very thing that drew us to the concept – is quickly turning into a daunting logistical puzzle. Lots of deep discussions and back and forth from members in the group as we work it out. Someone suggests using telescopic tools or an eye patch – we decide that just might work. Someone brought cake, which fortifies us as we work. We’re also working on developing a dome for the Mega Golf hole, and trying to figure out the dimensions for a platform to support the entire structure. Basically what we’re doing this week is A LOT OF MATH. Turns out basic math skills are a necessity, even for artists. Don’t forget your math, kiddos!
More to come next week.