Skybow, 2013 was created by Roy Staab over a period of ten days beginning
on August 20th. Based in Wisconsin, Staab has traveled the globe for 30
years to make his elegant works in natural settings, which are first and
foremost created in response to the specific sites. He had the difficult task
of choosing his location just weeks ahead for Saunders Farm without the
usual time he needs to survey the landscape. He chose the pond, as he
prefers to work in the water for its movement and reflective surface as a
backdrop. The pond at Saunders is also a favored spot for a herd of Black
Angus cows that roam freely, the edge was trampled and the vegetation
was far from pristine. The water had an unpleasant odor, was brownish-
green and not at all transparent but Staab was determined to use this
location; he thrives on a challenge and wanted to traverse the entire span
of the pond with a suspended work.
Staab decided to make a 300 ft. long arc to cross the horizontal length
of the pond creating a perfect line drawing in space. The position of this
catenary line was determined by tall trees at either end. Suspended
between the trees, the line moves gracefully as wind blows in the treetops,
while the surroundings stay stationary.
Staab’s works always make use of accessible organic materials found on
site. In this area it was wild weeds - mugwort, goldenrod and reeds, which
he tied together with jute using an armature of sessile bailing twine. He
then painstakingly lays out the material to create the line, working quickly
with precision and taking good weather and sunlight to his advantage.
Being inventive, Staab borrowed a bow and arrow and shot the twine
across the pond in order to suspend it between the trees. This attempt
failed. He then tried the more difficult task of throwing a string with a
weighted rock, which took many tries but succeeded. On the opposite side
of the pond he climbed a 40 ft. tall tree to attach the line but the weight
of the length was the next engineering problem to tackle. The suspended weeds dry
out and shrink and the knots he makes in the jute made it tighter
but the line stretched out which caused it to sag. Eventually he achieved his
desired length and height of the line to create a visual tension centered in
the middle of the pond - away from the appetite of the cows.
A few days after the work was completed the curved line was hovering at
its lowest point, nearly touching the water after the rain. It swayed and
danced in the wind just above the surface. This is the effect Staab most
desires when Nature contributes to the beauty of his art. His works are
in and of their environment, as opposed to being about site or space.
They are not placed into a new context from which they are made, but
created in the setting, inseparable from it and only subtly distinctive. When
accomplished Staab studied Skybow from all angles and the changing light
during different times of the day. He then set up his camera and tried to
capture all of this in a perfect shot.
Staab intends for his ephemeral artworks to decompose slowly as in all of
nature. The continual changes of weather, wind and the toll of time will
eventually cause their demise. The fresh green materials begin to wilt and
turn dry and brown; showing the process of life and death and the cycle of
all living things.