Artist Craig Colorusso aims to make beautiful things that encourage people to experience the beauty in nature -- and to realize "that they're beautiful as well."
For his newest installation, Colorusso has created a harmonic convergence of sound, light and nature in Wilson Springs Preserve, a unique wet prairie located at the headwaters of Clabber Creek on the west side of Fayetteville. In the wide open green space, his Wilson Circle stands like a musical Stonehenge, offering a soundtrack that enhances the pastoral glory of the preserve and offers the participant a place to become one with the light, the sound and the natural atmosphere. The space offers a meditative reprieve from the city, and you can bet it's intentional. Colorusso is a yogi who often uses light and sound in his art.
Colorusso explains that the music "starts a few minutes before sunrise and plays for a few hours. And it takes a break, and then starts up about an hour before sunset and plays for a few hours."
"The idea is that you just sort of come out here, and it just gives you that moment to feel like you're part of the environment," he says. As he explains the construction of his installation, a yellow butterfly flits above the tall grass nearby. "Right now, there's that butterfly over there. I just think that's so beautiful. And I think for me, the music just helps me slow down and focus on those kinds of things."
Colorusso says he got the idea to do the installation after a gig on the other side of the preserve. "I just thought it was beautiful here, and then there was a call to do more permanent work." During the pandemic, Colorusso has found himself doing more projects outside such as his Sun Boxes and his Sound Mural inside a tunnel at Maple Grove Park in Rogers. "I don't see any reason to go back inside. And I sort of thought that before covid anyway."
Prior to creating sound and light installations, Colorusso was a musician, but he says he was pulled to creating art based in light, sound and nature. "To be perfectly honest, my rock 'n' roll fantasies didn't really pan out. But this is what I hear in my head now. I feel obligated to make it." He agrees that it was a natural progression. "I still buy records; I still listen to records. I still like music. But like I said, I think this is just the stuff that occupies my mind. I think, you know, from an artist point of view, I feel obligated to make that [referring to his installation] and not try and make pop music."
He laughs and adds: "I'm also, you know, kind of banged up. I'm going to be 52 in two weeks, you know. Rock 'n' roll is a young person's game. I think I want more out of music. And that might not necessarily be songs, that might be something more like this. I do a lot of yoga, and one of the phrases I hear a lot is 'bringing your body back home.' So that idea [that] your body knows where it wants to go. Where it's been. I feel like with music, there's something to this. There's something familiar about this, even though it's not a familiar piece, the idea of coming back home."
Colorusso turns ever more philosophical on this particular day.
"Well, I see it more as the thing with the uprights is that they cast shadows, right? And the shadows are always evolving throughout the day. And because it plays with sunrise and sunset, it's not so much that it's meeting the light. It's more like accompanying the beautiful light that's already happening. I think I would say in general, what I'm trying to do with my life is to make this whole place better than when I got here. And one of the things I can do, I think, is make beautiful things that people can come and experience. And you know, just be present. Maybe that they're beautiful as well."
FYI - See Here!
Wilson Springs Preserve is located south of Sam’s Club in Fayetteville, along Interstate 49. Find a map and directions at www.nwalandtrust.org/wilsonspringspreserve.
See more of Craig Colorusso’s art at www.craigcolorusso.com.