UPDATE Nov. 23, 2020: The online auction is underway, with 45 items. You can bid on the items through 6 p.m. Nov. 29 at this link.
MARION — The buzz of chainsaws, commonplace after Iowa’s hurricane-strength derecho windstorm in August, can be heard again in Marion Square Park.
This time, rather than severing damaged trees, the buzz is from chainsaw artists contributing their time and talent to derecho recovery through a project created by Iowa BIG students. The learner-based education program, based in Cedar Rapids, focuses on providing students with real-world projects.
Students Lindsay Radack, Leah Ahlers, Emma Gerlach, Lexi King, Ella Schultz and Connor French, along with teacher Mark Matson and an assist from Marion Mayor Nick AbouAssaly and the Marion Parks Department, instigated “Splinters” to help with derecho recovery.
Leah’s idea for the art project came to fruition with her fellow students and chainsaw artists Lynn Anderson of LA’s Wildwood Creations; Anthony Martin of Logs4Heroes; Clint Henik of Carve R Way; and art teacher Travis Kimball.
The artists have carved more than 20 bears, eagles, cardinals and other creations from ash, hickory, oak, hackberry and cherry trees that were damaged in the devastating August storm.
Related: Photos from Iowa’s derecho windstorm
Friday, Nov. 20, is the final day the artists will be working on the project in Marion Square Park, where a small crowd gathered in recent days to watch the work.
The students hope to raise $6,000 from an online auction of the art from Nov. 23-29. Sixty percent of proceeds will be donated to Trees Forever to help with derecho recovery. The rest will go to the artists. More details can be found on the group’s Facebook page.
Donations also are being accepted that will go to Trees Forever.
“The derecho helped bring people together,” Lindsay said. “We want to see that (spirit) continue and help rebuild the community.”
Learn about recommended native trees to plant in the Midwest and see more photos from the Splinters project, below: