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The Summer of the Spider
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The Summer of the Spider
  Michigan Travel News ( Press Release )

Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA; Summer 2003: A massive 34-foot spider made entirely of bronze and marble and ten feet taller than Leonardo da Vinci''s Horse: The American Horse, a well-known icon for Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, will stand boldly in the cultural commons area at the Gardens this summer. Her name is Maman, French for mother, and she is truly the mother of all spiders.
June 12, 2003, Maman, the elegant spider created by sculptor Louise Bourgeois, will be revealed after a three day installation period which will take place from Monday, June 9 - Wednesday, June 11 outdoors within the Sculpture Park at the Gardens. Two large cranes will help construct the 12- ton spider. It will take seven people and a crew comprised of sculpture specialists from New York, Chicago and the Gardens to assemble the large artwork.
"We are excited to bring a work of this magnitude to the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. Already West Michigan families are expressing excitement and with the launch this summer of Michigan''s West Coast, our area''s new marketing campaign to draw tourists and convention-goers to our area, this helps add a common level of interest that appeals to all ages," stated Brent Dennis, Executive Director of the Gardens. Maman has been exhibited at Rockefeller Center in New York, at the premier of the Tate Modern in London, and the Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain among other places.
Louise Bourgeois, an American sculptor, born in France, is the creator of Maman and her counterpart Spider, a 7.8 foot bronze spider will be the newest permanent addition to the Sculpture Park. Maman will be featured at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park on a temporary basis from June 12 - October 31, 2003.
About the Sculptor
"I think it is entirely relevant to acknowledge how fortunate we are to have this work here having first been shown in London in 2000 and New York in 2001," said Joseph Becherer, Curator and Director of the Sculpture Program at the Gardens. " The sculptor is generally regarded as among the most important sculptors working today and recognized as one of the most important women artists of all time. Her work is deeply personal, but is very effective in communicating with a broad audience."
Bourgeois studied mathematics and received a PhD before embarking on her art career. Her first works were wood figures that expressed fragility, abandonment and loss. She expresses her interest in parent/child relationships through most of her work.
"My childhood has never lost its magic, it has never lost its mystery, and it has never lost its drama. All my work of the last fifty years, all my subjects, have found their inspiration in my childhood," Bourgeois has said.
She was the first woman artist to be given a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, and was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Sculpture Center and the Grand Prix from the French Ministry of Sculpture in 1991.
The spiders express the shift from the theme of a dominating father to the mother. Before the spider series, her sculptures of women were self-portraits.
The Spider Series
Maman is a representation of Bourgeois'' mother. Her mother was a tapestry weaver and a strong feminist, and promised that Louise would be educated and "never touch the needle."
The 34-foot spider is homage to her mother. This is the only large-scale piece she has created. "This is the way I experienced my mother," she has said. "She was monumental to me."
Another way Maman is representative of her mother is the presence of eggs on the sculpture. Looking up, one can feel the protection of the large body and see the eggs, an expression of growth and fertility.
Maman and Spider are not the only spiders Bourgeois has created. She has created a variety of spiders in different sizes, although Maman is the most grand and significant.
Spiderly ActivitiesFrederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park has a web of activities to entangle in this summer which include:
* The Spider is a 10-minute video examining the behavior and characteristics of spiders and their role in the natural world. Shown continuously in the Hoffman Family Auditorium, June 16-September 18.
* The Spider as Symbol is a drawing activity based on symbols. Visitors will select a creature from an array of small-scale, three-dimensional reproductions and draw a family member as that creature.
* I Spy a Spider challenges your knowledge of spiders and their characteristics.
* Weave a Web using a pegboard-type construction with rope or bungee cord to learn about spiders'' feats of engineering and the steel-like strength of their thread.
* Stereotyping Spiders uses magnetized words to register reactions to spiders.
* Puzzle Map additions will include a replica of the eight-foot spider that's joining our permanent sculpture collection. Visitors will be able to build a four-foot spider.
Please visit our website at meijergardens.org or call 888.957.1580 for more information.
About the Gardens
The 125-acre Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park features Michigan's largest tropical conservatory; the nation's largest carnivorous plant house; desert and Victorian gardens; outdoor gardens; the Midwest's most comprehensive outdoor sculpture collection and indoor galleries with changing sculpture exhibitions, featuring world-class works by Rodin, Oldenburg, Moore, and others, as well as a cafe and gift shops.

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