If you have visited, or are planning to visit, Grand Marais in the next year you may notice that caribou have returned to the city limits in the form of an art installation called “Once and Future”.

The “Once and Future” Art Installation

“Once and Future” is a 3-part art installation created by artist Corrie Steckelberg. According to her website:

 “Once and Future” is a large scale public artwork that contemplates the realities of an ongoing mass extinction and climate change, while still holding home for the possibility of growth and rebirth. Caribou once lived in the Lake superior basin region, but they disappeared after human activity made their habitat inhospitable.

The three life-sized caribou are made out of a metal rebar frame wrapped in burlap sacks. Inside, Corrie has spread numerous seeds into soil. The intention is for the caribou to “come to life”, in sense, as the seeds sprout. Already we have seen all three caribou start to green up.

Eventually, Corrie imagines the burlap will begin to disintegrate. Although, what the caribou will look like at the end of their time in Grand Marais is still unknown. Perhap, the burlap will disintegrate, leaving behind just the skeletons of the caribou.

The installation was done under a Minnesota Arts Board grant and placed in three areas around Grand Marais with permission from the Grand Marais Arts Advisory Board.

The installation is temporary, currently set to be removed next spring.

History of Caribou on the North Shore

Some time ago, caribou did in fact roam in areas along the North Shore. They were driven out when logging started removing their habitat. In addition to over-hunting and the appearance of white-tailed deer in the area, the caribou eventually disappeared from the area completely. They have not been seen in Minnesota since 1935.

This extinction of a once-thriving species along the North Shore was the inspiration for the “Once and Future” art installation. You can learn more about the caribou that once existed along the North Shore here.

See The Caribou

All three caribou that are a part of the “Once and Future” art installation are located within Grand Marais city limits. One is located in the Grand Marais Harbor Park and two can be found within the Grand Marais Campground. Of the two in the campground, one is out in the open and the other is a bit more hidden in the woods. While not hard to find, the artist has decided to keep the location of the caribou hidden, leaving it up to the visitor to track them down. Can you find all three?

Learn More

Check out the detailed article on Exploring the North Shore. Then listen to the interview with Corrie Steckelberg on Episode 35 of the Exploring the North Shore Podcast. Follow along with the changes on the Wulfhelm Website and on Corrie’s Instagram.

Listen to the Interview with Artist Corrie Steckelberg