Often, the full significance of an artwork is not perceived upon first viewing. The context and location in which a work is viewed can have considerable influence on what is communicated. Artists, as well as audience, can suddenly gain additional appreciation of a work when it is imagined in different settings. Such was the experience of Robert Caskey when he first thought of locating Harbinger at MLAP. In considering the Art Park mission statement, I was skeptical about the relevance of my work to those stated objectives. My skepticism gave way to the realization that it was the appearance of a series of hats on the land that foretold events to come.”
There is probably no article of clothing that is selected with greater care than that which is worn on the head. The baseball caps of today are only the most recent in a line that stretches back well beyond the view of history.
It is intriguing to imagine Michigan history as revealed by hats. There are the Ojibwa, Chippewa and Huron, the trappers, traders, priests, soldiers and lumber barons, “each with their characteristic head gear emblematic of a particular culture and mentality.”
Caskey has chosen the hat of the industrialist. “It implies itself not only into the past but the future as well.” It is a harbinger, foreshadowing dramatic change.