From concrete to tiny park

Graduate students Alberto Babio and Deuk-Geun Hong build WAM's upcoming pop-up park in the W.L. Hall Workshop inside Rapson Hall on Sunday. Created by the WAM Collective student group, the park will take over the museum's front plaza from April 20 to May 10.

Juliet Farmer

Graduate students Alberto Babio and Deuk-Geun Hong build WAM’s upcoming pop-up park in the W.L. Hall Workshop inside Rapson Hall on Sunday. Created by the WAM Collective student group, the park will take over the museum’s front plaza from April 20 to May 10.

Jackie Renzetti

Soon, the concrete in front of Weisman Art Museum will be transformed into a grassy oasis. 
Starting Monday, the WAM Collective will present a pop-up park of artificial grass and wooden furniture in the museum’s front plaza for the last three weeks of spring semester. 
The group of University of Minnesota students designed the park as an expanded idea stemming from the exhibit called Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art. 
“We were really interested in this idea of how we could take the concepts in ‘Feast’ and engage the campus community with it. So we started asking ourselves, ‘What does hospitality mean, and how can we make the Weisman seem more hospitable to the campus community?’” said graduate student Katie Covey, adviser and program specialist of the WAM Collective.
Covey hopes the park will engage more students with the museum. 
“We also talked a lot about the idea of exchange and this being like a place where you could come together on an equal playing field, essentially, and all disciplines from the University and backgrounds can come,” said Alexa Herman, first-year student and the special projects intern for the park. 
Three architecture graduate students — Alberto Babio, Kamon Liu and Deuk-Geun Hong — are building the park’s furniture, which will include shelves and benches. 
From certain viewpoints, passersby will see the original furniture arrangement spell the word “welcome,” a feature that Liu said plays on the idea of differing perspectives. 
Over the course of the park, however, visitors may arrange the furniture to suit their comfort, Covey said. 
The three architecture students are building the park in one week as part of one of their studio projects. They spent the first six or seven weeks collaborating on the design idea with the WAM Collective. 
Babio and Liu said the design process was a back-and-forth conversation between the architects and the WAM Collective to finalize the product. 
“We love working with architecture students because we have our art background and they have their design background, and I think that’s where real innovation happens, when the two groups mix together,” Covey said. 
Though the park will remain in front of the Weisman 24/7 throughout the next three weeks, Covey and Herman said they don’t anticipate any problems with vandalism or theft.
“It is open for the public to enjoy, and [we] hope that people will be respectful of the space,” Covey said. “The opposite of hospitality is hostility. If we did experience any hostility, I guess that’d be another commentary on the whole process.”
Shelves next to the benches will house zines collected from students and other publications that will include poetry, artwork and other forms of visual expression.
Herman said the WAM Collective will contribute a zine, and old Ivory Tower issues will be available as well. 
On Monday, the park will host a “Zine Workshop” during which students may make a zine to contribute to the park. 
Iris Page, a member of the WAM collective, said the team hopes that students will take the opportunity to submit a zine by Sunday, adding that zines from the workshop on Monday will still be accepted.
“We’re really pushing because this is a cool project that we’d like to see pull through,” Page said. “It’s a way to put yourself out there. And I think that at a giant university that can be both really easy and extremely difficult to do.” 
While the park is up, the collective has planned programming including “Eye Candy,” a showcase in which design students will present their fashion designs. On certain days, the park will offer activities such as writing notes or fortune cookies with discussion prompts.