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MIDDEN MOUND WICKIUPS 2016 • Pearsall Park, San Antonio, TX Steel, woven wire mesh, hexcell carbon composites, Texas limestone, Texas red granite, solar, LEDs. Wickup Overlook: 14' x 28' diameter. Wickiup Encampment: 14' x 28' x 60'.

The wickiups in Pearsall Park honor the historical presence of indigenous peoples and their light footprint on the land. The structures suggest an overlay to the history of this site: a large decommissioned city landfill repurposed into a contemporary City Park. The wickiup atop our cultural midden suggests a return to a less wasteful society.

 

The term wickiup refers to a simple domed structure associated with Native Americans of the Southwest. Locally, the wickiup has been associated with tribes that have long vanished from San Antonio. The Kickapoo Tribe, with a Tribal Reservation in South Texas continues the tradition for ceremonial purposes.

 

At Pearsall Park, both Wickiup Overlook and Wickiup Encampment have substituted the typical wickiup construction of bent or gathered branches with bent steel pipe. The blankets, which traditionally cover wickiups to protect against the elements, have been replaced with colorful woven wire mesh and geometric hexcell material. Solar panels supply power to nighttime lighting.

 

The wickiups provide shaded gathering places, seating, and viewing experiences looking out over Lackland Air Force Base and the natural landscape along the meandering Leon Creek. Downtown San Antonio is seen in the distance.

 

Wickiup Overlook responds to the technology of the large cargo planes using blankets made from a hexagonal structural material often used in aircraft skin construction. During the day, this material creates a sun-reflecting presence, while at night solar lighting transforms the materials into illuminated lanterns creating shadow play on the surfaces below. The Trilateral Bench is comprised of three interlocking ten foot prism-shaped pieces of polished Texas red granite, forming triangular interconnected seating.

 

Wickiup Encampment, located on the saddle between two midden mounds, features blankets that present an indigenous approach through colored patterns using woven and twisted wire mesh. The Serpentine Bench, made from Texas limestone, provides seating and a recreational play object. The bench allegorically references Manetoa, the great water serpent of the Kickapoo. The internal illumination of the wickiup structure at night suggests the light omitted from an intimate campfire.

 © 2016 Buster Simpson

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