The ConNectar: Pollinator Art for the Arboretum
Delightful Flutter of Jewel-Colored Pollinators Fly Across the Westside Trail
Trees Atlanta unveils their second large-scale public artwork for the Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum
Atlanta, GA – October 4, 2021 – An undulating arc of jewel-colored creatures fly across the Atlanta BeltLine Westside Trail. Officially open to the public today, the newest artwork added to the Atlanta BeltLine is a 3-ton metal sculpture titled “The ConNectar”. The massive sculpture stretches 40 feet across the trail. High above, five types of pollinators commonly found in our urban ecosystem flutter in suspended animation over walkers, joggers, and cyclists who pass underneath. The scale and whimsy of the sculpture inspires people to take a fresh look at the greenspace around them and the pollinators that depend upon native plants and trees, like those found on the Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum.
Trees Atlanta’s mission is to protect and improve our urban forest by planting, conserving, and educating. As part of its extensive education programming, Trees Atlanta embraces visual arts and sensory nature experiences to bring attention to the urban forest that we live in and the need to protect and care for these spaces.
The ConNectar emerges from a meadow filled with grasses and wildflowers planted by Trees Atlanta and represents the intimate connection between plants and our pollinators. The artwork captures the flight paths of pollinators with archways that move and flutter. The structure is made of corten steel, and the wings of each pollinator are created using colored acrylic materials that allow sunlight to heighten their color. When the sun is bright, the pollinators cast shadows of primary colors onto the trail.
As visitors move down the Westside Trail, they walk under the art piece with bees, butterflies, bats, wasps, and hummingbirds overhead as if they are moving along the same flight path. Installed on the Atlanta BeltLine east of Murphy Avenue, the dazzling sculpture is located within a short walk of the future headquarters of Tree Atlanta at 825 Warner Street SW (scheduled to finish construction in Fall 2022). The outdoor classrooms at the new headquarters will be connected by a tree-lined direct path to the Westside Trail of the Atlanta BeltLine.
Where once industrial cargo was transported by rail, the environment is being restored and improved by trees and plants. Trees Atlanta, in partnership with the Atlanta BeltLine, has created acres of meadows filled with native wildflowers, plants, and grasses, and they have lined each completed segment of the BeltLine with thousands of trees. These planted areas are known as the Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum, and it has become a welcoming habitat for local wildlife. People, too, are drawn to the arboretum and enjoy the beauty and healthy dose of nature it adds to their BeltLine visits.
Over 30 acres of native meadows have been planted by Trees Atlanta as part of the Arboretum, with 18 acres planted on the Westside Trail and over 11 acres on the Eastside Trail. Soon, 6 acres will be added on the Southside Trail. The sculpture emerges from a meadow of native plants and grasses and arches high over the trail to the other side. The movement articulates the connection between ecologically beneficial plants that support pollinators. More pollinators increase propagation of plants and trees which then boosts wildlife lifecycles overall.
The ConNectar is the second large art installation commissioned by Trees Atlanta for placement on the Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum. “We hope this sculpture draws attention to the presence and importance of pollinators in our city. Art like this can elevate the importance of protecting pollinators and the habitats they need to survive,” says Greg Levine, Co-Executive Director of Trees Atlanta.
The sculpture was designed by local artists Kaylin Broussard and Chris Bartlett, who also oversaw the complex fabrication and installation of the work. Broussard and Bartlett are known for creative and interactive public art with previous and current installations at the Truist Stadium, Atlanta BeltLine, and the Atlanta Maker Faire. The ConNectar is their largest and most ambitious project to date. The couple each have technical backgrounds, one in human factors engineering and the other user experience research and design. This duality of art and science is reflected in their philosophy summarized by Bartlett as, “science is experimental art, art is experimental science.” The artists have used technology and science to bring life and nature to this sculpture. The artwork inverses the physical smallness of pollinators and suggests their true scale of importance in our ecosystem. Broussard noted, “This thing is massive. It makes you feel small.”
The pair’s proposal for The ConNectar was chosen from submittals received by Trees Atlanta in response to a request for art proposals in January 2020. Seven artists nationwide submitted proposals, with the winning artist being awarded the commission. The sculpture is part of Trees Atlanta’s continuing contributions to design, create, and maintain the Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum. The artwork is part of the permanent collection of the Art on the BeltLine exhibition.
Trees Atlanta’s first nature focused art for the arboretum was installed in 2015 on the Eastside Trail. A collection of 33 botanically-accurate oak leaves sculpted in polished stainless steel represents all of the native oak species of Georgia. “33 Oaks” was created by Atlanta-based artist David Landis. Both 33 Oaks and The ConNectar are featured in Trees Atlanta educational programs, including Junior TreeKeeper School Break Camp, weekly free Arboretum Walking Tours, and many other education programs. To learn more, please visit: treesatlanta.org .
The Atlanta BeltLine is open 6 a.m. – 11 p.m. daily and The ConNectar and 33 Oaks can be seen year-round. The ConNectar can be visited by accessing the Atlanta BeltLine Westside Trail from Lee Street or Allene Avenue on the border between Oakland City and Adair Park neighborhoods.
About the Artists: Kaylin Broussard and Chris Bartlett are a collaborative husband and wife team who transplanted to Atlanta in 2014 to pursue graduate degrees in Design at Georgia Tech. They both received BFAs in sculpture and began their careers as craftsmen in Louisiana, Kaylin in a production ceramics studio and Chris in an artisanal furniture company. They now spend their professional time researching and designing for the human experience but confess to being sculptors at heart with an urge to use tools and create meaningful objects to share with as many people as possible. They enjoy applying the inclusive thinking of Design to public art projects to create playful, approachable work. Public art is passion work for the couple and they are drawn to projects that ask for commentary on the human experience and our connection to the natural world. In their proposal, they explained “we are selective about the kinds of creative projects we take on and always weigh the resource consumption that comes with creating physical objects like sculpture. We want to be sure that the resources we consume to make art and sculpture are adding value to the world through meaningful and memorable human experiences.”