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Norse story of destruction, creation featured in exhibit at Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center

July 12, 2017 Updated: July 13, 2017 at 9:59 pm
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Wendy Mike's figures were hung July 6, 2017 at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center for "Ragnarok" the installation that she and fellow artist De Lane Bredvik collaborated on. Photo by Mark Reis

In Norse mythology, Ragnarök is the final battle, the end of the world.

On one side are the gods, who represent the forces of creation and civilization, and on the other are the giants, who represent chaos and destruction.

Although destruction is most often decried, positives are tucked within the obliteration of something: When one world dies, another is reborn.

"The new world begins," said artist De Lane Bredvik, "and the seeds of destruction of the new world are already planted."

The site-specific art installation "Wendy Mike and De Lane Bredvik: Ragnarök Anthropocene" will open Saturday at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College and run through Jan. 7.

Ragnarök is described in the Norse poem "Völuspá," the first and best-known poem of the Poetic Edda, the modern acknowledgment for an unnamed collection of anonymous Old Norse poems. For the exhibit, Bredvik worked with Jackson Crawford, an instructor of Nordic studies and coordinator of the Nordic program at the University of Colorado, who transliterated five of the poem's stanzas into Younger Futhark runes. The Younger Futhark runic alphabet consisted of 16 runes, or carved markings, used from about the eighth to the 12th centuries in Scandinavia.

Bredvik painted those five stanzas, using more than 400 runes to tell the story, up, down and around the hallway of the second-floor gallery. Painted in a primordial gray semi-gloss over matte paint of the same color, the vertical designs shimmer in the light.

Completing the exhibit are Mike's human-sized figures created from packing tape, much like the shapes she hung at Marmalade at Smokebrush and featured in a 2014 exhibit at Kreuser Gallery. The figures represent the gods and will be hung from the ceiling. For her real-life body models, Mike selected contemporary gods from our society, including athletes from the U.S. Olympic Training Center.

The story of Ragnarök isn't just one for the storybooks. Mike and Bredvik use the tale to reflect on the creation and destruction cycle inherent to life, including the more local issues of wildfires and floods the Pikes Peak region has experienced in the past five years. A touchscreen device will feature interviews Mike did with local folks who survived the fires and floods and had to start life over, as well as provide more information on Norse mythology and the runes.

"It's a look at repeating events in life," said Bredvik. "You can either learn from them or ignore them."

JENNIFER MULSON, THE GAZETTE, 636-0270, JEN.MULSON@GAZETTE.COM

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