Artist: Andy Goldsworthy
(British, b. 1956)

Location: Conard Environmental Research Area (CERA)
Artist Andy Goldsworthy photographing Prairie Cairn during spring burn
Andy Goldsworthy photographing Prairie Cairn during spring burn



Campus Sculpture Tour

Andy Goldsworthy


PRAIRIE CAIRN, 2001-2002
Iowa limestone, dry-stone construction

As part of an installation that spans the United States, Andy Goldsworthy constructed one of three temporary stone cairns in a reconstructed prairie at Conard Environmental Research Area (CERA) in March of 2001. The two other cairns were created in tidal zones near New Rochelle, New York, and Pigeon Point, California. Made at low tide, they were then photographed by Goldsworthy as the incoming waters destroyed the stone structures.

The prairie cairn at CERA was completed before the prairie grass had begun to grow and was photographed over a period of 18 months to document the sculpture in varied weather conditions. The result is a suite of large-scale panoramic images - now in the collection of the Des Moines Art Center - showing the cairn with varying heights of grass, in snow, and amid flames as the prairie was subjected to a controlled maintenance burn in May of 2002. Although considered one of the temporary works, Prairie Cairn should last for decades before eventually succumbing to the effects of the weather. The cairn was constructed with limestone quarried from Iowa.

The project was initiated by the Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, Iowa. The Prairie Cairn was commissioned by the Des Moines Art Center in collaboration with the Faulconer Gallery and the Center for Prairie Studies at Grinnell College. For a brochure on the project, contact the Faulconer Gallery.

Andy Goldsworthy: Three Cairns is the largest project in the Western Hemisphere by British artist Andy Goldsworthy (born 1956, Cheshire, England). The project spans the continent with permanent and temporary stone markers called " cairns" at sites on the two coasts of America and the Midwest. Two key components of the project in Iowa are to be found within 50 miles of each other: Prairie Cairn (Midwest temporary cairn) near Kellogg, 12 miles west of Grinnell, and the Three Cairns (Iowa permanent cairn) at the Des Moines Art Center.

About the Artist: Installation artist Andy Goldsworthy was born in Cheshire, England, in 1956. He completed his studies at Bradford College of Art (1974-75) and Preston Polytechnic (1975-78). Goldsworthy often creates temporary sculptures outdoors, but documents his work as it changes with its environment through photography. The Des Moines Art Center currently owns a suite of photographs detailing the changes of Prairie Cairn over the seasons. Prairie Cairn is part of a larger project that spanned the United States, with other cairns built on the East and West coasts. In fact, Goldsworthy’s work spans several continents: his work has been made in the Northern Territories of Canada, the North Pole, Japan and the Australian Outback.

Directions to Prairie Cairn from Interstate 80:
1. Take Exit 173 (Highway 224/Kellogg exit) south.

2. After the gas station, take the first right onto a gravel road (S. 12th Ave. E.)

3. Proceed for 1.5 miles to the main entrance of the Conard Environmental Research Area (CERA) as marked by a sign.

4. Stay left in CERA as the road forks. The cairn will soon be visible on the right.

PLEASE DO NOT DISTURB OR DEFACE THE CAIRN IN ANY WAY and be respectful of the natural environment at CERA.

Print these directions with a map.

Sculpture Home
About the Artist
Printable Map to CERA & the cairn
 last updated 5/25/06   Copyright © 2006 Grinnell College     Grinnell, Iowa 50112 641-269-4660