In the summer of 2010, Kiss Me I’m Polish was approached by Brooklyn-based artist Marc Swanson to design the limestone base for a new permanent outdoor sculpture that was to be unveiled that Fall, Descent of Civilization (Bison Memorial). Commissioned by the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and DST Systems, Inc. in Kansas City, MO, the artwork, a life-sized bronze bison skeleton, pays homage to the American Buffalo, the majestic beast of the American West whose great herds once blanketed the North American continent.
The base on which the buffalo stands was to feature two quotes – one from renowned zoologist William T. Hornaday about the cause of the buffalo’s near-extinction, and one from the artist himself, paying tribute to the great herds. In addition to the texts, Marc wanted to evoke the “wild, untouched Great Plains” by incorporating visual representations of prairie grass – and not just any grass, but the particular type of grass upon which the bison grazed - Buchloe Dactyloides, also known as Buffalo grass.
With those specificities in place, the artist presented KMIP with the challenge of creating a design that was simultaneously fresh and contemporary, but also timeless – using language reminiscent of classic, turn-of-the-century memorials. And because the piece would be part of a permanent outdoor installation, the treatment of even the smallest details was not lost on anyone. This meant that our typographic choices were of utmost importance; as well as the style and execution of the illustrations (which would be carved out of limestone by hand).
The resulting designs utilize a combination of classic and contemporary typography, with illustrations that are quite minimal, but still effectively communicate the concept of the memorial by presenting a landscape on one side and a quintessential memento of it on the other. We are extremely proud of how the design came to life when the sculpture was unveiled and look forward to seeing how it evolves with the elements and continues to withstand the test of time.
- Art Direction
KMIP's design team perfectly bridged the references given with my aesthetic and delivered a flawless execution that surpassed all of my expectations. Their timeless design beautifully compliments the sculpture and as if by magic, they were somehow able to deliver exactly what I had envisioned without my ability to articulate it.”
– Marc Swanson, Artist