Mark McHenry, Sculptor
On the trail, history and nature are palpable – and now so is art. It can be touched and felt.
Mark McHenry, architect and sculptor, has gifted several sculptures to the Volland Foundation. Created over a lifetime and not specifically designed for this place, McHenry recognized they would feel at home here – and they do. The materials of iron, wood, stone, and found objects resonate with the Flint Hills and its culture. The architecture, engineering, and vision of each piece is complex and intriguing. They stir the imagination.
The sculptures are numbered in order of their date of installation, not in the order of their position on the trail… you will encounter Sculpture #3 first. It can be seen from the Volland gallery – it is to the west of the Ruin, close to the two trees along the mowed path leading to the trail entrance. Sculpture #1 is next, placed close to the trail’s south entrance, and Sculpture #4 is suspended from a tree just before the first bend in the trail. Sculpture #2 is about midway through the trail.
The fifth and sixth pieces, installed in October 2023, can be viewed alongside Volland Road. Sculpture #5 welcomes you before you reach the Store . It is on the right, hanging from a big tree and responding to the Kansas wind. Sculpture #6 is suspended from the honey locust tree located beyond the gallery, swinging and turning with the breeze. Enjoy!
Sculpture #1 (July 2022)
A sculpture by Mark McHenry points toward the entrance to the Nature Trail.
Sculpture #2 (September 10, 2022) | Created from wood and iron artifacts of train tracks , the piece fits beautifully into the context of Volland and its origins. McHenry generously gifted this sculpture to The Volland Foundation in July 2022. Thank you, Mark, from all of us at the Volland Foundation!
The second gift of sculpture to The Volland Foundation by Mark McHenry
Saturday morning, September 10, 2022. 9 am.
“The skies in the southwest are deep blue, portending rain. Mark McHenry, architect, artist, sculptor arrives as planned, bringing a second sculpture to install on the Nature Trail at Volland. With the prospect of rain, we move quickly to the Trail. Mark has an idea for a location of this piece. He considers the view from which hikers will first discover it, and the space and shape required for the size of the sculpture. We discuss the way the water flows over this location during a big rain event. The artist is undeterred. He accepts that the sculptures he is gifting to the Volland Foundation will be subject to the natural forces of the environment and will show the passage of time and weather. He likes that. The materials of his art are natural and belong in a natural environment.
We begin to carry the pieces of the sculpture, one by one, down the path into the woods, and I think of the people in ancient times who built the Pyramids and Mayan temples, by hand, piece by piece. Make no mistake – I have no illusions of Pyramids or Mayan temples at Volland. But carrying pieces of wood and stone by foot to a place where something of importance is to be built stirs thoughts of the past. The connection of land and hand and art is present and keenly felt.
As the installation begins, the engineering and problem-solving required of the artist to realize his vision become apparent. Pieces fit together perfectly, the holes are in the right place, balance is achieved through careful thought. Admirable. Brilliant.
Putting it together is a kind of performance art in itself. Rumbling thunder and spitting rain spur efficiency. Trains blast by and remind us of the larger world outside this niche in the woods. Finally, the piece is in place. Cottonwood limestone from Chase County, wood from a Kansas walnut tree, and a bit of Manila line make a strong statement that refers to land and industry, agriculture, and productivity. It feels right.
It is raining harder now – a baptism of sorts for this sculpture living in the woods. The artist is happy. We love it. And we are most grateful for this gift, Mr. McHenry. Thank you.” – The Volland Foundation
Sculpture #3 (Halloween 2022) | With the help of Ryan Jones, Volland Director of Operations, the third sculpture was placed in view of the Volland Store, beckoning visitors to discover others on the Nature Trail.
Mark McHenry delivered his third gift of sculpture on Halloween morning 2022
Sculpture #4 (November 28, 2022)
It took a village to suspend this sculpture from just the right branch.
Sculpture #5 (October 30, 2023)
This was ten years in the making. It all started with a pine plank collected by his Dad.
Sculpture #6 (October 30,2023)