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 Wild Ricing Moon

Sculpture by John David Mooney

Erected at UMD

The towering sculpture titled "Wild Ricing Moon" by internationally known sculptor and leading environmental artist, John David Mooney, is being erected just outside the new James I. Swenson Science building on UMD's campus. The 60 foot "moon" portion of the sculpture was erected on October 27, with the addition of the "rice stalk" section to be installed at a future date. The sculpture was moved from the BendTec company on Garfield Avenue to UMD by Jeff Foster Trucking. The sculpture was fabricated at BendTec through the assistance of BendTec owner, Bob Meierhoff.

Photos: The sculpture as it went up on October 27, 2005.Below: The artist's rendering.

When complete, the 89-foot tall steel piece will be one of the largest art pieces at any university. It contains a large circle, 40 feet in diameter. Mooney said the circle represents the full, rice-harvesting moon of late summer. The outstretched diagonal shaft that will move through the circle will represent a rice stem and also will depict the North Shore of Lake Superior and natural features of the region. Mooney said that "Wild Ricing Moon" credits the Ojibwa people for their custodial care of the environment, and for the tradition of living in respect for and in harmony with nature. "In turn, the sculpture calls our attention to the necessity of nurturing and enjoying the earth," Mooney said, "especially as it intersects with our knowledge of the environment gained through science."

The calendar of the Ojibwa consists of 13 moons, one of which, the late August moon, announces the harvest time of wild rice. Hence, the sculpture is called "Wild Ricing Moon."


Art and science have played a significant role in Mooney's work. Mooney has created sculptural pieces for the Vatican Observatory, where he was the first artist-in-residence since the Renaissance. Mooney is the creator of a 48-story light sculpture that became the icon for the 1996 Atlantic Olympic games; "Amazon Electric," a light sculpture commissioned by the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago; "Spiral Galaxy," a sundial sculpture at the Papal Palace, "Castel Gandolfo; Crystara," a 30-foot high atrium sculpture made of Waterford Crystal and aluminum at The University of Chicago; and "Starsteps," a rooftop sculpture in Los Angeles. His current projects  include an urban park with both a fountain sculpture and a 42-feet high sculpture for Urbana, Illinois; and a 200-feet long stainless steel and light sculpture as a gateway to the city of Miami. A book detailing his work was recently published by University of Notre Dame Press.

Sculpture Web Cam

Written by Cheryl Riana Reitan. Posted Oct 27, 2005

Cheryl Reitan, Publications Director,
NEW RELEASES, UMD Media contact, Susan Latto,, 218-726-8830

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