“Bunny ears, bunny ears, playing by a tree.
Criss-crossed the tree, trying to catch me.
Bunny ears, Bunny ears, jumped into the hole,
popped out the other side beautiful and bold.”
This little rhyme can be heard under the breath of many children first learning to tie their shoes. Making “bunny ear” loops as they practice tying their shoes over and over again. As they go on with their day, their young minds are entertained with Bugs Bunny from the Loony Tunes or present day children watch Ruby and Max. Their hearts are touched by The Velveteen Rabbit and their imaginations are sparked by the White Rabbit and the March Hare in Alice in Wonderland. In spring, children bellow out “Here comes Peter Cottontail, hoppin’ down the bunny trail….” alerting all that Easter is on its way. And at every petting zoo, the rabbits receive the most visitors because children are fascinated with their soft fur and long, elegant ears.
When I look at these sculptures, I connect to my past through childhood memories, but I also feel like I am connecting to Iowa’s past. Rabbit Hill is located in the prairie corner of Reiman Gardens. This corner has wild grasses and flowers that once covered this whole state. I feel almost transported through time: a time where people had to risk their lives to survive; a time of hard work, togetherness, and working with the nature to live. The prairies of Iowa had such beauty and created such rich soil, that it brought many people to the state. People with a dream, with hope, and with imagination who were determined to create a better life for their family. The Iowa prairie gave the pioneers fertile lands for farming and land to support their family. This prairie allowed wildlife to flourish and gave food to the early settlers. Over time, the prairie began to disappear and farm fields and towns took its place.
As I look closer at Rabbit Hill, I noticed that the heads are painted differently on either side. One side is more dream-like, with freer marks and colors. To me, this is the side where the childhood memories live. The other side is a truer representation of a rabbit. This side represents the adult view of these animals. As we grow up, the magic of rabbits tends to disappear leaving only the complaints that rabbits eat the garden plants and make holes in the yard.
The memories of wonderment and excitement that these animals gave us fade over time, just like the natural prairies of Iowa are fading. These sculptures are a reminder of where I have been, and what Iowans before me have gone through.
By Emily Van Nostrand