Marguerite Humeau’s Orisons is a subtle, 160-acre earthwork that transforms an unfarmable plot of land in Colorado’s San Luis Valley into a place of reverence, honoring its expansive history, existing ecosystem, and imaginable futures. The work consists of the land in its entirety, as well as a series of eighty-four kinetic and interactive sculptures that invoke the land’s histories and vast network of interrelations. Dozens of whistling and rhythmic, plant-like sculptures inspired by the native and nomadic vegetation become activated by the wind, a legendary force in the valley, to summon the site’s energies. Also a part of the work are large-scale sculptures that hover over the ground and visually reference the outstretched wings of Sandhill Cranes, iconic birds that migrate through the region, which visitors can lay upon.
Humeau is known for creating artworks that form semi-mythical ecosystems. In her practice, she poetically resuscitates extinct or forgotten worlds and weaves factual events into speculative narratives. For Orisons, Humeau turned her attention to the San Luis Valley, a high alpine valley with a rich history of agriculture and home of the oldest continuous water rights in Colorado. This region, along with the Southwest United States, is amid a megadrought due to the changing climate. Developing Orisons in response to these urgencies, Humeau has worked closely with fourth generation San Luis Valley farmers, Jones Farms Organics, and has also extensively researched the site and consulted a wide array of experts – local agronomists, resource conservationists, historians, wildlife refuges, ornithologists, geomancers, and indigenous communities, among others.