Karl Saliter aims to “make stones float” as part of his environmental sculpture. Constructed of steel and stones harvested from the Peninsula School of Art’s grounds, the creation will remain on display indefinitely.

There is no shortage of art in Door County; dozens of galleries throughout the peninsula feature a variety of painting, pottery, and sculpture each year. Varied as these exhibits often are, it’s not often that one art exhibit is displayed in three different places at once: indoors, outdoors, and on the water. But the Peninsula School of Art’s “Eco-tivity” exhibit, slated to run from August 7 through September 26, does just that.

“I’ve left some play in this exhibit in letting the process go where it’s going to go,” says Kay McKinley Arneson, Director of Marketing and Exhibitions at the Peninsula School of Art. Indeed, the subtitle of the exhibit is “Environmental Art in Process,” and the phrase aptly describes the sense of transformation and collaboration engendered in the “Eco-tivity” exhibit: collaboration between people, organizations, and organisms from Door County and beyond.

“Eco-tivity” is comprised of three components: an indoor installation in the school’s Guenzel Gallery, created by UW-Steven’s Point lecturer Bill McKee; a sculpture made of stone and steel on the school’s front lawn, created by Connecticut-based sculptor Karl Saliter; and a series of sculptures that will float on the waters of Tennison Bay off of Peninsula State Park, created by environmental artist and School of Art board member Dan Engelke.

“With environmental sculpture, you can celebrate a site, enhance what’s already there, take materials that are part of a landscape and incorporate them into a work that stands on its own, or have a combination of the three,” says Arneson. “Eco-tivity” is a prime example of this sort of combination, using sustainably harvested materials from Peninsula State Park and the School of Art to create art in both locations.

In presenting a trio of environmental sculptures at the same time, the school hopes to increase community awareness not only of the peninsula’s natural surroundings, but also of the artistic process.

School of Art Executive Director Cathy Hoke-Gonzales comments, “It’s exciting for the community to be able to see the process of creation. Art is usually hung before the community arrives.”

The public creation of these pieces serves, in Arneson’s words, “as an example, but also a commonality with the students who enter our doors. It’s a good way to show process, because [the artists] are doing it anyway, and they’re real happy to share.”

McKee’s indoor installation is created from a variety of natural materials, including saplings and honeysuckle plants, most of which are invasive species or had already died naturally.

“I pulled honeysuckle for a day or two in the park,” McKee explains. “There’s tons of honeysuckle around here. I spent most of my time on this project getting the plants. If art is a process, then this process has been about the labor.”

McKee hopes his finished product will both reflect the natural settings from which his materials were harvested and enhance the gallery space in which it is displayed.

“On a broader scale I’ve been thinking a lot about boundaries,” says McKee, “and also the temporal nature of invasive [species] – on some level, are we invasive?” At the same time, McKee says, “the preconceptions that I have been thinking about for weeks or months are gone, more or less. They have to evolve.”

That sense of process is also important to Karl Saliter, who, like McKee, is constructing his “Eco-tivity” piece in full view of the public. Saliter is using native stone (all taken from Art School grounds) and steel to construct an eight-foot cubical sculpture on the school’s front lawn. Saliter began constructing his piece days before the exhibit’s opening, keeping his vision for the final product open to revision even as he began welding the steel.

“I’m torn between having it be solid and having it be a cavernous space,” Saliter says. But certain goals are set (so to speak) in stone.”

He continued, “What I’m obsessed with is making stones float. The stones are apparently untethered, so that you can’t see what’s holding them up. I want people to touch [the sculpture]; I want them to look at it; I want them to feel it; and mostly I want them to be drawn to it. I want people to redefine their relationship to the natural element of stones.”

Redefining relationships between people and places is also at the center of the third portion of “Eco-tivity,” Dan Engelke’s floating sculpture on Tennison Bay. Engelke’s installation is comprised of about two dozen individual sculptures made of cedar and ash wood, fabric, and solar-powered LED lights.

Engelke has produced several similar installations in the past, but he tailored this installation specifically to its occasion and location.

“I’m using ash because ash [trees are] under a real distress right now in the state,” Engelke says. And while Engelke has previously hidden the light sources in his installations, this time he chose to make the light source a visible part of the work.

“Energy’s too big an issue right now [to keep the light source hidden]. I thought it should be on the piece.”

Like McKee and Saliter, Engelke hopes his work will encourage his audience to re-evaluate their relationship to nature.

“I look at myself as a conductor,” Engelke says. “I create instruments, and then I set these instruments out to play in a certain environment for a certain time; then I pull them out. And what do they play? They play the rhythms from where they are.”

Engelke’s instruments will grace the waters of Tennison Bay until August 28, when he will remove the installation. McKee’s indoor exhibit will inhabit the Guenzel Gallery until September 26, and Saliter’s sculpture will remain on the School of Art lawn indefinitely. All involved in “Eco-tivity” hope that the exhibit will foster a deeper appreciation for the natural beauty of the Door peninsula.