Artist carves new life into an ancient white pine

A Minnesota artist has used his talents to bring new life to an ancient white pine log, which now stands as a monument to the wildlife found in the air, on the land and in the waters surrounding Bemidji State University.


The log for the sculpture came from a pair of white pine trees, estimated to be over 100 years old, which were taken down by the university during the summer of 2013 as part of a project to install a modern artificial playing surface at BSU’s Chet Anderson Stadium.

In December, Nerstrand-based chainsaw artist Curtis Ingvoldstad was approached about the possibility of turning the 17-foot log into a shoreline sculpture, similar to wildlife sculptures he has become known for elsewhere in the state.

“They were looking to re-purpose the wood and make something cool, and asked if I’d be interested in that,” he said. “These shoreline totems that I’ve done in the past represent a realistic view of Minnesota animals so you get all these things that could possibly be on the shoreline all grouped together.”

Ingvoldstad started with a rough scale drawing showing an approximate position for each of the animals organized around a tree — birds at the top, with land animals such as bears or raccoons in the middle, leading to an underwater section featuring fish such as sunfish, pike or walleye.

“Of course for this one there will be a beaver,” he said, referencing BSU’s mascot.

While the piece began with the initial drawing, the detail work in large part waited until Ingvoldstad began working on the log.

“My goal with every carving is to have an inspired piece,” he said. “I’ll do research on the animals, I’ll get photo references of the things I’m doing; I have somewhat of an idea of what’s going to happen, but I really want to find things out, the specific details, as the carving unfolds on the wood.”

Ingvoldstad’s sculpture is just one of a number of projects the university has planned that will allow the wood from those stately trees to live on. One of the additional projects which will be highly visible to campus visitors includes an entry arch into Chet Anderson Stadium, built by students in Bemidji State’s Department of Technology Art and Design and installed earlier this summer. The arch, which will be formally unveiled later this year, is installed near where the trees originally stood. Other projects include cross-sectional “cookies” cut from the widest section of the trees, which will be used in BSU’s biology classrooms and as timelines illustrating significant events in the history of the region, and there are plans for a relief mural installation in Deputy Hall outside BSU’s Office of Admissions.

• Curtis Invgoldstad
Photo gallery of BSU’s shoreline sculpture
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