Sculpture race makes fun multi-generational memory

By Susan Mustapich | Aug 15, 2017
Photo by: Dagney C. Ernest Isaac Krohn and his great-grandmother, Merle Brosius Archer, are pushed along at a rapid pace in the Rockland Sculpture Race Aug. 12 by Isaac's grandmother, Anita Brosius Scott, left, and mother Tana Krohn.

ROCKLAND & CAMDEN — The first-ever Rockland Sculpture Race Aug. 12 inspired a Camden family to create a multi-generational team, decorated to reflect their Australian heritage.

The sculpture, “MidCoast Bound – ing,” celebrated Merle Brosius Archer’s arrival in the Midcoast and encompassed four generations.

The kangaroo racer was built around the wheelchair of 98-year old Merle, who recently left Australia to live at Quarry Hill in Camden, where she can be closer to her children, grandchildren and great-grandchild.

Anita Brosius Scott, Merle's daughter, was in Sydney, Australia, packing her mother's belongings for the trip to the United States, when she first heard about the Rockland Sculpture Race.

An image of a sculpture for the race, as well as the meaning of the sculpture, immediately came to her. Given that the sculpture had to be pushed through the race, she thought about her mother and her wheelchair.

"I very quickly came up with the idea of turning the wheelchair into a kangaroo, with her great-grandson as her joey, and creating a memory -- an event that connected the two generations," said Brosius Scott. "When I heard about the race, it appealed to the artist in me," she said.

The sculpture transformed Merle and her wheelchair into a mama kangaroo, with great-grandson Isaac perched between her knees in an oversized foam and fabric pouch. Merle and Isaac wore homemade kangaroo suits and sported elaborate furry brown kangaroo heads with pointed ears, long snouts, glass eyes and big eyelashes. The heads were shaped with foam attached to baseball caps, and covered with "Slinky" fabric, a stretchy knit.

The wheels of the chair became the mama kangaroo's haunches, covered with the same brown material. The mama kangaroo's vinyl feet were attached to the wheelchair's big wheels, and slapped down on the pavement with each forward rotation. On the upward rotation of the wheels, the feet disappeared into "fenders" that covered the top of the wheel, which were part of the kangaroo's haunches. To make a bouncy kangaroo tail, Brosius Scott covered a wet-dry vac hose with foam and fabric. Her friend Bridget Qualey made Isaac's entire costume and headpiece, and Brosius Scott made everything else.

Brosius Scott and her daughter, Tana Krohn, powered Merle and Isaac through the race down Winter Street and past the Center for Maine Contemporary Art, dressed in Crocodile Dundee-style hats, khakis and boots.

The idea of creating a memory and an event that connects the two generations, great-grandmother and great-grandson, "was what motivated me to do all of the work involved in creating this moving sculpture, for such an ephemeral event.," Brosius Scott said.

As Isaac grows up, the pictures will be part of his life legacy, she explained, although he won't remember the race and his great-grandmother won't be here. This is something his parents will talk about, and he will have the pictures.

Merle was originally from Australia. Her first husband was in the military in World War II, and Brosius Scott and her siblings were raised in the United States. After raising the family, and divorcing her first husband, Brosius Scott's father, Merle moved to back Australia. She remarried and lived in the home her father built in Sydney for 25 years. After her second husband passed away, she wanted to come back to be with her children in the United States. Merle, who has 10 grandchildren, is really enjoying Camden, Brosius Scott said.

The inaugural Rockland Sculpture Race is the creation of artist Kim Bernard. As artist-in-residence at the University of New England, and this spring at Camden Rockport Middle School, Bernard had traveled to Massachusetts for the People's Sculpture Race at the Cambridge Arts River Festival, and wanted to bring the experience to Rockland and Camden. In the spring, CRMS students built sculptures under Bernard's guidance, and raced down Knowlton Street. Bernard said a sculpture race "encourages people who might not typically make art or be artists with a capital 'A' to make something sculptural, something three-dimensional that they can participate in a race with."

Courier Publications reporter Susan Mustapich can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at smustapich@villagesoup.com.

From left, Anita Brosius Scott, Merle Brosius Archer, seated, Bridget Qualey, Tana Krohn and Saphrona Stetson keep dry before the Rockland Sculpture Race Aug. 12. (Photo by: Dagney C. Ernest)
Isaac Krohn and his great-grandmother, Merle Brosius Archer, seated in their kangaroo sculpture, enjoy a moment after the Rockland Sculpture Race Aug. 12, with Isaac's grandmother, Anita Brosius Scott, right, and mother Tana Krohn. (Photo by: Dagney C. Ernest)
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