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Prairie Dreams

This large installation consists of multiple pieces of furniture arranged as an open air living room in an area that had once been the site of a commercial building but for decades served as a plaza connecting a parking lot to a business district. Commissioned by the City of Princeton through the work of their public arts commission Burton envisioned a space that would be like no other. The resulting work contains full-sized mosaic furniture. Two arm chairs, a couch, a table, and a bench make up this installation which is covered by soaring sun shades and lit after dark with Edison lights.

Largely completed in her home studio in Marseilles, IIL Burton envisioned this as a community-built project. Members of the community were invited to assemble on the plaza for one day and create small pieces that would eventually be incorporated throughout the completed work. Burton and a group of volunteers created an open-air workshop, which was attended by nearly a hundred community members. They became so absorbed in their work that, as the day began to have some rain, they crawled under the tables and continued the work on the birds, hearts and flowers they were creating with materials provided by Burton or those they brought from home. Many stories are incorporated into these small accents found throughout the installation.

Burton used the polydam technique carving large foam pieces in her workshop. Tiles were carefully chosen and the overall design carries a theme of “Black-eyed Susans,” a flower believed to have dominated the early prairie upon which Princeton was developed. Every piece is anchored into the plaza and designed with drainage opening to protect and keep the pieces functional and durable for decades.

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