The four panels of “Quadriga: Elements of State” by MaryBeth Garrigan were inspired by the gilded copper sculpture situated atop the portico of the Minnesota State Capitol entitled “Progress of the State” by Daniel Chester French and Edward Potter. As in the original sculpture, Garrigan depicts the classic elements of water, fire, air, and earth as horses in her acrylic on canvas panels, translated into traditional Venetian smalti glass mosaic for this installation at MSP Airport by Miotto Mosaics Art Studios. In contrast to the original sculpture, Garrigan’s horses, and the elements that they represent, are unbridled as they swirl across the picture plane, suggesting a delicate balance between the powers of government, agriculture, industry, natural resources, and quality of life in Minnesota.

Artist Statement:

The Water Horse rides on the waves of Minnesota’s 10,000 glacial lakes and the westerly winds that bring life-giving rain. Water is such a significant part of Minnesota’s culture; it is even in the origins of the state’s name, Mni Sota Makoce, the Dakota phrase for “land where the waters reflect the clouds.”

The Fire Horse uses the warm southern sun to turn black soil green. Fire brings flowering beauty to Minnesota’s prairies in spring, as well as a warming glow during winter in the hearths of our homes. Summer campfires by the lake evoke memories of storytelling with friends and families.

The Air Horse rises on wind currents and inspiration illuminated by the morning light of the eastern sky. As we breathe the wind, the air travels from our lungs out into the world. And as we speak and sing, our voice takes a journey on the wind.

The Earth Horse stands steadfast upon the land while holding the power of the people’s resolve. The northern winter brings a time of reflection and peace. The land sleeps under a blanket of snow and stars of the clear, cold sky, where the full moon casts your shadow.

About the Artist:

Saint Paul-based artist and educator MaryBeth Garrigan's paintings portray a lushly-colored world of visual poetry, reflecting her love of science, history, architecture, and nature. Synesthesia is experienced as her perfumed compositions evoke a layered music of the mind and a narrative of Artemis, the feminine archetype as a hunter. Garrigan was the founding executive director of the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, Minnesota. She teaches art at the American Indian Magnet School and is an active member of the Schmidt Artist Lofts community in Saint Paul.

  • Subject Matter: Abstract
  • Created: April 12, 2021
  • Current Location: MSP Terminal 1, Arrivals
  • Collections: Mosaics
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