When a series of destructive tornadoes hit Verona, Wisconsin, in June of 2014, the town was hit hard. A local school, barns, homes and trees suffered severe damage – but from this devastation inspiration grew for contemporary fiber artist and Verona resident Pat Kroth.
Kroth draws her creative energy from nature, as well as the people, places and experiences she encounters. Following the tornadoes, Kroth saved assorted barn boards and tornado debris from her Verona property, along with cut branches, brush, and tree limbs. This assorted storm debris would eventually come together to create a mixed media fiber installation called “Nest”.
For several months, Kroth’s reflection on the tornado was featured as an onsite creation at the Anderson Arts Center in Kenosha, Wisconsin. At 5’ tall and over 11’ in diameter, the powerful piece also included quotes from Verona residents and sound recordings such as chain saw noises and bird songs, which played in the background of the gallery during the exhibition to “tell the story of the tornado experience.”
Kroth comments, “In less than two minutes, family homes, generations of oak trees and priceless personal mementos were torn from their roots and scattered across the countryside. Although daggers of barn boards speared roofs, siding, and gardens, not a single person was seriously harmed. But looking at the overturned classic cars in a nearby field, made one stop and ponder the fragility of life and what is truly valuable. Even now, as we strongly appreciate and take pride in the warmth, strength and security of our newly roofed homes, we realize that our peaceful comfort can be overturned in the blink of an eye. Like birds tossed from our nests, we embrace the notions of homelessness, fear and uncertainty in the face of the stronger forces of nature. “