Located on the southside of Chattanooga, Sculpture Fields at Montague Park exists as an open conversation between art and nature. Approximately two dozen installations of different shapes and sizes occupy this seemingly stray and lonely field. A little off the beaten path, many people might not usually venture towards this park, centered in an industrial part of town.
A few weeks ago, my roommates and I packed a picnic and made an afternoon out of our time at Montague Park. We ate our lunch under a sky-scraping tee-pee-like structure, and then we used the rest of our time to walk through and climb all over the maze of varying sculptures.
It was refreshing to experience art that, in reference to the size of the sculptures, puts the viewer into perspective. Most of the sculptures didn’t have any kind of description by them so it was particularly interesting to pick out one and give it our own.
One piece paired minimal material with looming height in the form of a chair. So, at eye-level the sculpture was four spidery long metal legs and as you bend your neck to see the top, the seat and back of a chair were resting on top. What was the artist trying to say? Who sits there? Could I be so bold as to dream to sit there myself?
I found this structure particularly compelling as I stared at it and wondered why such a familiar form was so abstracted. It made me uncomfortable initially as I pondered how anyone could realistically reach the top, but then grew more fond of the piece when I thought that surely any symbolism I could draw from it already meant more than the sculpture’s purely physical aspects.
I think that too often people expect something from art installations like the sculpture field; we think they must somehow cater to our personal prejudices and ideas about what art should be and look like. However, because the Montague Park sculptures were large enough to loom over us, it seemed that we could no longer criticize what they had to offer. They were distinctive and strange, and they forced us to shift our usual aesthetic reference point.
It was interesting to view the lonely field as an area of regrowth and revitalization. Visiting this park was very different than going to a clean cut gallery space to view artwork.
For the curious viewer, I recommend visiting Sculpture Fields at Montague Park to shift your perspective in an atypical art gallery. The park is open seven days a week from sunrise to sunset, and admission is free.