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Morken creates ‘Circles’ of loveliness at 300 Broadway

Morken creates ‘Circles’ of loveliness at 300 Broadway

She did it again.

Fargo artist Mara Morken has installed a mesmerizing, liltingly lovely art piece — sort of like a capiz-shell chandelier on steroids — in the atrium of Kilbourne Group’s 300 on Broadway. It’s called, fittingly enough, “Circles.”

At Kilbourne Group, we’re happy to support local artists and the local arts scene. Especially when that artist is someone as talented, hard-working and just plain delightful as Mara. KG has worked with Mizz M. on a few other projects, including “Chalk,” an interactive, public-art project at the Loretta Building last spring and a dynamic ribbon window display, also at the historic Loretta.

We visited with Mara on what inspired her to make this piece, how long it took and whether she required a marathon session at the chiro afterward. (Talk about suffering for your art. The installation required holding her arms in the air for hours at a time.) If you happen to walk through the atrium, be sure to look up. You’ll find an alabaster cloud of loveliness up there, made right here in Fargo.

It’s an impressive-looking piece. What are the stats on it?

The piece itself hangs from roughly 17 feet in the air and is 12 feet wide by 10 feet deep and about 6 feet high. I used 17,280 acrylic beads, 1,080 glass or crystal beads, 8,640 discs made of 110-lb card stock and about 2,000 yards of various weight monofilament line. Give or take a few. 🙂

Creating the pieces for the installation took somewhere around 120 labor hours. I had tremendously diligent and detailed assistants helping me. The paper discs need to be handled very delicately and the fine monofilament they were strung onto is easily crimped and tangled. The delicacy of the materials made the creation very tedious work and surprisingly hard on the hands.


How many strands did you hang and how long did it take to install? 

It was quite the job installing the piece! Gary, one of the many hardworking staff at the 300 Building, half-joked that he didn’t think I could finish it on time. Although I didn’t admit it to him, there was a point when I was worried he was right!

The first day, I spent about 4 hours installing a grid of heavy weight monofilament on which to hang the 540 strands that were created for the project. The next morning I began a 14-hour day hanging and adjusting strands — filling out the sides of the piece. The last day was 8 hours of hanging the final strands, hoisting the piece a little higher into the air and primping. So, in total the install took about 26 hours. Most of those 26 hours were spent having my head 18 feet in the air and my hands reaching up.

I was fortunate that the terrific residents of 300 Broadway took pity on me, delivering cold beverages, cheering me on and even inviting me up for breaks in their lovely apartments. The very best part of the install are the new friendships that I know will continue beyond the installation. That building is filled with fantastic people.

What was your inspiration for it and what did you hope to convey?

The Atrium was a very new kind of challenge for me. I adore creating for public spaces but in this case it’s also a home. It felt absolutely necessary that the piece be on a substantial scale while not overly obtrusive.

It took some faith on the part of the 300 residents to let me create something so large. They were essentially allowing a stranger into their home to make a substantial change. I wanted to be respectful of that — to be tasteful rather than bold.

I hoped to convey whimsy and peace at the same time. As a child my great grandaunt had a capiz-shell chandelier that I found unbelievably beautiful and soothing. The memory of lying on the floor in my aunt’s lanai staring up at it while it swayed in the breeze was a part of my inspiration. Recreating that kind of peaceful flurry felt right for the space, purpose and residents.

Would you consider this one of your more ambitious pieces?

Absolutely! The opportunity to work on such a magnificent scale is not something that comes along every day. I feel very fortunate to have had a shot at such a large canvas!

To see a time-lapse video of the art installation, click here:


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