Location: Scioto Park
7377 Riverside Drive
Details: Scioto Park is located on Riverside Drive, north of Route 161
and Emerald Parkway and just south of Hard Road. There is
ample parking in both the upper and lower levels of this park.
N 40 07.076
W 083 06.632
House of Spirits Riverbox was created in 2009 by artist Mark Soppeland.
Park in the upper parking lot.
Begin walking north (upriver) through the grass.
Look for a “hole” in the trees, indicating a path.
Continue through the trees, approximately 24 paces.
Keep an eye out to the right, near the base of a tree.
Artist and Credits: Mark Soppeland lives in Akron, Ohio. His versatile artwork encompasses many mediums and themes, often resulting in whimsical, yet thought-provoking castles, shrines and guardians. He has created more than 45 public art projects and is a Distinguished Professor at the University of Akron.
House of Spirits Riverbox was inspired by mail art, a 30-year collection of found objects and the Indonesian custom of building a small elaborate house – a Spirit House – that was placed on a pedestal in the corner of one’s property. The house was intended to provide a shelter for spirits that could cause problems if not appeased. Offerings were customarily left at the house to soothe the spirits. An old spirit house should never be discarded but placed together with others somewhere in a field or a wood. Although they aren’t maintained anymore, it is common practice for passers-by to leave a gift at the spot.
Artist Mark Soppeland’s inspiration for House of Spirits came from a 30-year collection of mail art and an ancient Indonesian custom.
Mail art was a popular art form in the 1960s. Artists would send visual art, music, sound and poetry through the international postal system instead of displaying their works in a gallery because they believed that the commercial gallery was limited and possibly corrupt.
Soppeland combined the artistic concept of mail art with the Indonesian custom and spiritual belief of spirit houses to create his riverbox. Indonesian beliefs state that when people move into a new home they disturb the natural world. In order to re-balance the natural surroundings, residents must build a smaller, more detailed model house on the property, known as a spirit house. The spirit house is a sign of respect and is meant to shelter and appease the displaced spirits.