Just across the Fairfield County line off of Alston Road is an access to the Palmetto Trail head near Peak.
As autumn approaches, hikers and runners likely look forward to the beauty found there as the leaves change, but there is a different kind of beauty to behold there right now—artistic beauty.
Art on the Trail, sponsored by Pocket Productions, has brought artists to the outdoors to create artwork using natural items found along the Palmetto Trail.
The trail into Newberry County runs from Peak to Prosperity and holds a variety of pieces, as does the trail around Columbia.
With a theme of the fragility of nature, the exhibit increases hikers’ mindfulness of humankind’s role in preserving the earth for future generations.
The art will be on display until exposure to nature causes it to begin to deteriorate.
Artists Jen Pepper and Brian Rust worked together on the artwork from the Peak to Prosperity section.
Pepper used cotton fiber, wool and river rocks in her artistic creations which included webs, cocoons and nests.
She chose those three things to represent because of the strong sense of place those items represented.
Pepper said a lot of her artwork is linear.
She was excited by the prospect of working outdoors with vines to create art.
“A lot of the pieces are based on birds nests and spider webs specifically the zigzag spider,” she said. “I love the construction of webs because they are the best architects we can imagine.”
She worked and weaved and she became one with the project and with mother nature, a fitting response since she uses a lot of blue in her art.
Blue is a cross culturally symbolic color for mother.
Brian Rust used natural wood found along the trail and also used lumber from the old railroad that used to run along the pathway to construct resting nests.
Three of these nests, which are human-sized bird nests, are located close to the creek.
Rust said he placed the nests near the water to create a sense of peace.
Artistically he had in mind the metaphor of the bird’s nest as he worked.
The bird’s nest is created by the bird as a refuge, yet those efforts remain subject to the forces of nature and therefore will not last.
The creativity and functionality of that instinctive creation moved Rust and is an image he often draws upon as he teaches as a professor of art at Augusta State University.
He has 20 years experience creating temporary structures such as these.
While Pepper, a professor at Cazenovia College in New York, is an internationally known artist who creates work from natural materials.
Her vision and Rust’s artistic vision intertwined just as the materials did to make the resting nests.
Rust wanted to give walkers and hikers a place to sit and contemplate nature and the human condition.
“I think there are some advantages to going out and finding a place and using materials unique to that place,” he said.
He used pieces of the train track to connect the art with Peak’s historic train trestle, a way to connect the past with the exhibit.