Grommet consists of 3,500 cubic feet of oak logs compressed into a structure that draws on the imagery and environmental impact of small dams, piers, and other utilitarian structures. Paralleling the site relationships to historically similar forms, Grommet contrasts its surroundings. Within the piece, the nearly homogeneous composition of natural material in harmony with its environment belies its strict man-made shape. In time the wood within the structure will begin to decay and deviate from its strict organization, making a transition from construction medium to nutrient rich compost.
Art often allows us to see more than the tangible work in front of us. Among the images suggested by Michael McGillis in Grommet is that of the vertical pilings of piers. The remnants of such piers are visible at scores of locations around the Great Lakes. Visit any one of the sites and imagine what is no longer there—the busy towns, the thundering mills and the elegant hotels that once served freighters and touring ships. Just a few miles form MLAP, between Beulah and Empire (access via Esch road off of U.S. 31) is the now decaying pier that once served the lumber mill town of Arai. To the south, near Saugatuck, the resort town of Singapore is now buried beneath the massive sand dunes. In the Upper Peninsula, visit Fayette near the tip of the Garden Peninsula southwest of Manistique and you can walk through a restored ghost town with its massive stone furnaces, opera house and historic hotel.