As the mother of a young child I spend a lot of time in playgrounds. Most of them are uniformly unattractive: the sterile plastic Tupperware-like parts, the ditches of mulch worn away under the swings, the most vulnerable features often spoiled by vandals. Bridget Beck’s sculptures are an antidote to these aesthetically challenged play structures. Her recycled metal and wood constructions feature ladders, ramps, desks, benches, bird houses, caves, swings, and sliding poles. I imagine the word “whimsical” has been used to describe to Bridget’s work by well-meaning folks. The brightly colored doo-dads and the spaceship quality of the pieces overall certainly inspire whimsy, but a touch of chaos gives this work an added edge – perhaps literally. Because these things were not made by a safety committee there is an element of risk: there are places to trip and the slide might land you a little faster than expected. If you have the good fortune to enjoy one of her play structures with a child you might notice an interesting leveling effect – children will be challenged to do some serious imaginative work and and adults will shed responsibilities and get back a piece of childhood. You might also be inspired to reconsider your own cast-offs and have some transformative fun with them.
The sculpture below, “Poetry Studio,” was completed in June 2012 at Franconia Sculpture Park.