The Dragon / Over the Hill
Balloons celebrate births and birthdays, graduations and anniversaries, and all the holidays in between. We give them as gifts to convey good wishes and set them free to soar up on the wind. The Dragon is an ongoing project created with the fallen balloons I’ve found littering the fields and shoreline of our riverside farm. Tied together in recognition of how all things in nature are connected, these errant balloons have been exhibited multiple times in different stages of development.
In its early incarnations, when it was significantly shorter, this sculpture’s title was Over the Hill, a phrase I found printed on one of the balloons. I chose it because it also means “absent without leave” and calls to mind the traditional British song “Over the Hills and Far Away,” inferring “out of sight, out of mind.”
But as I found more and more balloons and learned that the mass release of balloons has been made illegal in several states, I gave this artwork the more menacing title The Dragon. Made from non-biodegradable plastic, balloons pose significant threats to birds and animals who may mistake them for food or be entangled in the ribbons they inevitably carry. In addition, because of their metal coating, mylar balloons can cause power outages if they become tangled in power lines. Now at least 60-foot-long, this shape-shifting sculpture tells the life story of these stray balloons from celebration to trash to resurrection as art.
Installation view—Adkins Arboretum, 2022
Installation view—Robert Ortiz Studios, Chestertown, MD, 2017
Songs for Our Future Series: Concert to Highlight Climate Change & Clean Energy