Natural or Man-Made?
A Falls Church community art project in the woods blurs the lines.
Just off the winding path that follows Howard E. Herman Park’s trickling stream in Falls Church sits a brown, mushroom-capped tree stump. One would be excused for thinking it’s a freak of nature—some unknown species of giant fungus that has yet to be discovered—but it isn’t. Rather, it’s a work of fancy by local artist and George Mason High School art teacher Marc Robarge. “It’s right on that line…where you don’t know if it’s organic or man-made,” he says.
Titled “Humongous Fungus,” the installation is part of “Natural Wonders,” a public art project sponsored by Falls Church Arts for which Robarge enlisted the help of local residents at schools, libraries and senior centers in crafting various art elements (other pieces resemble vines, leaves and branches). The giant mushroom was created in partnership with first-graders at Mount Daniel Elementary School.
“They made balls of clay and pancaked them,” says the artist.
The exhibit runs through October. More than anything, Robarge says he wants it to make people smile and see the human connection to the environment. Plus, he says, students “get to see their teacher in a different light. Suddenly, [I’m] not just the high school art teacher anymore. [I’m] a working artist.”