Trolls usually occupy the realms of legend and fantasy, but these towering giants will take up residence in the real world this summer in the woods of The Morton Arboretum near Chicago, Ill.
With roots in Scandinavian fairy tales, trolls are typically depicted as unfriendly, brutish, and even dangerous, but the six colossal wooden trolls that will make their home within the arboretum’s 1,700 acres will be approachable and enchanting. Indeed, visitors are invited to seek out the playful-looking figures that will serve as larger-than-life guardians of the forest.
Acclaimed Danish artist Thomas Dambo and his team will create the Troll Hunt exhibit from May 7 through June 21 using hundreds of pieces of reclaimed wood — battered boards, fallen trees and branches, and the remains of pallets and packing crates. Visitors can watch as the 15- to 20-foot-tall creatures take shape on weekdays, and then from June 22 through the end of the year and beyond, the trolls will watch over the arboretum.
Some trolls will be situated in plain sight, while others will be hidden off paths among the trees. Built to be both mischievous and thought-provoking, the trolls of Troll Hunt invite visitors to interact with them. Elements of the exhibition encourage visitors to consider their personal responsibility as stewards of our environment.
One of trolls to be built will kneel near a “trap,” a simple wooden crate propped open with a stick. One end of a string is tied to the stick while the other end is clasped in its hand as the creature waits to catch a human for study.