The Soap Factory presents Rethinking Public Spaces project, Trestle Support Systems, by Pete Driessen at the Northern Pacific Rail Yard site in Brainerd, Mn. Created with red pine wood and metal hardware, Trestle Support Systems is a solo public art project presenting two monumental site specific installations, Trestleand Trestle Worker, reflecting the architectural spatiality of the former rail yard spaces, referencing empowerment of the past community worker, and utilizing ideas of affective stimuli, physical embodiment and rural vacancy.
Just off the Northern Pacific roundhouse courtyard in the Blacksmith Shop where the trains ran lengthwise through the building, Driessen has created an interior, site-specific abstract wooden sculpture installation, Trestle and its connection to the physicality of the interior train tracks, rail ties and site detritus. Trestle physically explores the emblematic rail transportation support form, the trestle as figural representation, and expands the spatial vernacular of the Northern Pacific site as a sculptural and public art space.
Utilizing the Northern Pacific Boiler Shop as a process studio space and independent alternative gallery space, Trestle Worker embodies 35-train car laborers aligned with the architecture of the former work site. The installation references imagery from the Crow Wing County Historical Society & Museum of the daily working ecosystem of the former Northern Pacific site. The individual Trestle Worker sculptures collectively illuminate the former worker assembly line and the union of workers laboring over the large train car production.
Trestle language, semiotics and symbolism are synonymous with current creative placemaking trends of bridge building, bootstrapping, sustainability and empowerment. As a public art project in the making, Driessen tactically collaborated via economic exchange with participatory Brainerd individuals, businesses and institutions, often setting up creative initiatives as part of the large conceptual project. Inclusive was a community children’s Trestle Empowerment Workshop that focused on the 6 C’s of Empowerment: Competence, Confidence, Connection, Character, Caring and Contribution.
For the two installations at the Northern Pacific Site, Driessen commissioned sound artist Michael Masura Flora to compose two sound works to accompany the large sculptures in the massive spaces. Both sound works were influenced by the idiosyncratic components of the architecture and site. The sound compositions that were recorded within the architectural spaces themselves are meant to be physically supportive and sensually immersive, while promoting the affective experience of the viewer within the installations. The initial sound composition for the longer Trestle sculpture is lingering and evocative, while the sound orchestration for the Trestle Workers installation is arranged as a more rhythmic and playful composition.