Art: An art installation of a different kind

You’ve heard of outdoor art installations where objects are wrapped but imagine one that requires precise rototilling.

If you fly over Richardson Farm in Spring Grove, IL you see images of the Starship Enterprise, Spock, Captain Kirk and planetary objects. Or drive there to walk the rototilled trails that define the images. There is also a tower to climb to see the images. They are on a 33-acre cornfield about an hour northwest of Chicago west of Fox Lake.

Star Trek corn maze art installation
Star Trek corn maze art installation

Families think of cornfield images as a fun fall maze activity but they don’t just happen without artful designs and months of planning.

The 2016 Richardson Farm picture is a tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Star Trek series. First drawn by a designer who then transferred it to a computer for an exact GPS configuration, it was then carefully rototilled into the field, according to George Richardson. “It’s a very exact process, he said.

But it’s one whose result lasts for only a few months. That the picture disappears at the end of the fall season is why the Richardson family could get permission from Paramount and CBS to use Star Trek images.

“We explained that corn is an annual crop so there’s no long term benefit for us,” said Richardson. The farm has been doing corn-maze art since 2001 but the family settled the land back in the mid 1840s.

The whole process started in January however getting all the permissions needed ran all the way to the end of June and from contacts in LA to NYC. Time was important because the images had to be defined by the end of June.

Along with the studios and network, the Richardsons had to get permission from Spock’s estate and from William Shatner. “The Spock OK came early but through Shatner was good about it, he was harder to track down. We got his OK at the last minute,” said Richardson.

Past Richardson cornfield scenes have included a farm scene and a tribute to military veterans. Last year’s was a celebration of the Blackhawk’s Stanley Cup win. Maybe if the Cubs finally go all the way, next year could be a baseball player at bat.

The Richardson Farm is at 909 English Prairie Rd., Spring Grove, IL 60081 on US Highway 12, six miles west of Fox Lake and five miles east of Richmond. For other information visit Richmond Farm and call 815-675-9729.

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