If you have some time between 1-6 p.m. on any Saturday this June, it would be well spent on a stop by Public Pool in Hamtramck to experience “Reckoning A Peripheral Wilderness” — an installation by Detroit artist and CCS graduate Michael McGillis.
In the front window, ghostly coyotes cast in milky molded plastic peer out from a landscape of standing reeds and cardboard ground. Inside, tension between the natural and the artificial continues, as the landscape glimpsed from the street stretches back through the gallery in large timber-framed cross-sections, revealing plastic waterlines, marsh grass standing to brush the punched-tin ceiling, and dozens of striations within the cardboard terra firma. The feel is one of a DIY Museum of Natural History, with manmade “nature” created out of largely manmade materials, and the viewer is welcome to wander through the sections of controlled wilderness.
Like much of McGillis’ work, which includes the sculpture “Five Needles” in the Michigan Legacy Art Park in Thompsonville, there is the suggestion of "lessons from the school of impermanence," in McGillis' words. "Nothing endures, and human actions accelerate this fact.”
Aside from the main installation, the gallery space is punctuated by a few more details — a series of wall-mounted cardboard dinosaur skeletons framed in used pizza boxes echo both the structure and materiality, reinforcing the sense of manmade natural history. “Reckoning A Peripheral Wilderness” successfully creates a world unto itself, with contents, as McGillis puts it, “All wild, all Nature and every bit reassuring.”