Announcing Ledger’s largest art installation in collaboration with OZ Art NWA.
The ANT-icipiation has been building as we’ve alluded to these vibrantly colored critters and have yet to reveal their connection to Ledger. Enter Stefan Sagmeister.
Stefan, a nationally awarded designer, has brilliantly executed an elaborate story-telling experience throughout our bike ramps. The built in bike ramps at Ledger stretch ¾ of a mile, zig-zagging alongside the building on a gradual incline – Stefan’s mastery showcases local insects carrying precious jewels in dazzling colors atop them. Produced in partnership with OZ Art NWA and Ledger, the interactive exhibit features 13 varied species of local Ozarks insects, leading up to an impressive 95 unique mosaics embossed within the concrete.
The work of Austrian designer Stefan Sagmeister, speaks for itself. Boasting a grammy award and particularly known for his diverse album covers for the likes of Aerosmith, Jay Z and the Rolling Stones, the designer has challenged himself to exemplify out-of-the-box thinking. His current artistic direction focuses on longevity and what he calls the “Beauty Project” which emanates that beauty is no mere surface strategy but a central part of what it means to be human. Sagmeister explains the relevance of this movement:
“Short-term media like Twitter and hourly news create an impression of a world out of control, with democracy in peril, ubiquitous conflicts, and an overall outlook of doom. But if we look at developments concerning the world from a long-term perspective – the only sense-making way – almost any aspect concerning humanity seems to get better.”
This larger-than-life outdoor art experience conceptualized at Ledger only speaks to validate the notion that ‘we are living in a good time’.
They say ‘it takes a village’ and the statement couldn’t be more true. Conceptually, Stefan was inspired by the region’s unassuming critters and began to build his vision. He worked together with an illustrator from the Philippines, whom he recognized for her brilliant use of color and nature inspired works. After collaborating with the architects of the project, Stefan began to develop a plan to execute this beauty without compromising function. The designers agreed to pursue a mosaic as their medium of choice, but not just any digitally rendered mosaic— a masterly designed, hand crafted organic ensemble created in a technique that has been around for hundreds of years. Stefan chose a company based in Munich, Germany to work their creative artistry on the mosaic critters which was masterly executed through hand installation in Bentonville. The level of craftsmanship of these beauties is something that can only be fully appreciated in person.
As one of our architects on the project, Michel Rojkind, reiterates:
“When you do things with your hands, it’s a statement within itself. It’s for the long run.”
As you embark on the journey up the ramps, you are rewarded at the 6th floor rooftop destination with a tiled message composed of the jewels deposited by the journeying critters. The message so beautifully spelled out: “Now is Better”. The viewer is challenged to reassess that the seemingly insignificant critters are the ones to thank for orchestrating such beauty, and that the beauty of the collaboration reaches beyond the precious gems they carried. This sense of coming together is reflected in not only the building itself with all of its moving parts, but also in the artistic execution of the project.
The choice to use mosaic in itself supports the ‘longevity’ narrative. In material, the fragility of the mosaic tiles alongside their durability as a medium which can be used in the harshest environments (think subway stations) – lend an unexpected balance. Additionally, the visual juxtaposition of the vibrant and refined mosaic alongside the raw concrete fulfilled Stefan’s vision of “a beautiful tension”.
This incredible art installation is a token of generosity towards the community of Bentonville. It is designed to be used, walked, biked, meandered, photographed and shared TO and FOR the public. Our art collaborator, Elizabeth Miller of OZ Art NWA says that encounters such as this make the community more vibrant:
“Exploration is a way of life in Bentonville and Northwest Arkansas, and discoveries like Stefan’s colorful critters uplift and inspire, reminding us why making art part of everyday life is important.”
Stefan’s mission falls in line with the greater art ethos in OZ: to ignite a spark of joy and allow each critter to embody a “tiny piece of delight” all while reframing the question of ‘what is beauty?’ These critters amplify the notion that humanity in general is going back to where it always was and that the beauty of our surroundings play a significant role in how we behave.
Check out the full interview as Stefan Sagmeister + Michel Rojkind discuss their collaboration on the project!