Center for Prairie Studies Art Collections

The Center for Prairie Studies has a collection of artwork on display in various locations at Grinnell College.

Prairie Cairn

British installation artist Andy Goldsworthy created this sculpture at Grinnell College's Conard Environmental Research Area in 2001.

Andy Goldsworthy: Three Cairns is the largest project in the Western Hemisphere by the artist (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 Prairie Cairn (Midwest temporary cairn) near Grinnell and the Three Cairns (Iowa permanent cairn) at the Des Moines Art Center.

Prairie Cairn, the first component of "Andy Goldsworthy: Three Cairns" to be built, was created in early spring 2001 at Grinnell College’s Conard Environmental Research Area near Kellogg, Iowa. Prairie Cairn 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. Although considered a temporary work, Prairie Cairn should last for decades before eventually succumbing to the effects of the weather.

Roots of Renewal

A 2003 art exhibition focusing on challenges and changes in the Upper Midwest under pressure from new immigrants, new industries, new farming practices, and new attitudes towards the original tallgrass prairie; a collaboration between Grinnell College's Faulconer Gallery and the Center for Prairie Studies.

The Prairie Suite

The Prairie Suite is consists of 12 original prints by twelve artists, commissioned by the Center for Prairie Studies and completed in 2001, united around the themes of prairie and place.

Iowa's Vanishing Agrarian Landscapes

A collaboration between the Center for Prairie Studies and New Haven, Connecticut, photographer David Ottenstein resulted in thousands of photographs of the changing Iowa countryside.

Prairie Earthworks Project

Earthworks have been a major force in contemporary sculpture since the 1960's. For most artists working within the earthworks tradition, the method of creating a sculpture becomes a part of a process of interpreting their surroundings. As the sculptor works in an area ideas are materialized through the transformation of materials usually found at the site. The setting of a sculpture in the natural landscape provides a different set of references than the gallery or museum. The earthwork cannot be self-referential like a painting or sculpture in gallery or museum can. The earthwork's context is part of its content.

We use cookies to enable essential services and functionality on our site, enhance your user experience, provide better service through personalized content, collect data on how visitors interact with our site, and enable advertising services.

To accept the use of cookies and continue on to the site, click "I Agree." For more information about our use of cookies and how to opt out, please refer to our website privacy policy.