I keep my eyes peeled for them whenever I’m behind the wheel or walking along a street. They never fail to elicit a smile, or cause me to pause with a mind-bending thought. Poised somewhere between high art and the kitsch of mass produced lawn ornaments, homemade yard sculptures are a delight of travel. They may be in the form of a common object like an airplane or a human figure. Some are abstract. Fabricated of metal, wood, plastic and other substances, they can be made of new, recycled or natural materials.
Yard sculptures often have universal resonance, whether they recall the monolithic statues of Easter Island, or childhood memories elicited by a giant paper airplane caught in a tree. Sometimes they have meanings known only to locals, like the large candy-striped letter “Z” that sits atop a tall tree stump beside a home on a Hadley, Massachusetts back road. Such objects, expressing the enthusiasms of the people who created them, exhibit whimsy and playfulness, and help relieve us of common expectations in our familiar countryside.
Typically on a front lawn, but sometimes elevated in a tree or alongside a house, yard sculptures are distinct statements by a property’s inhabitants. While creativity can flourish even within the rigid conventions of lawns, flowers, and foundation plants fronting a house, this kind of homespun folk art grabs attention like no ornamental planting. They add interest to an otherwise mundane drive or ordinary landscape.