Artists Transform the Katonah Museum of Art in Summer Exhibition, OnSite Katonah

PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release: June 21

Artists Transform the Katonah Museum of Art in Summer Exhibition, OnSite Katonah

Museum’s Façade Re-Envisioned by Victoria Fu’s “Egg”

July 10 October 2, 2016

 June 21, 2015, Katonah, NY: The Katonah Museum of Art (KMA) will present transformative, site-specific installations responding to the Museum’s distinctive architecture and setting this summer in the exhibition, OnSite Katonah, opening July 10. With projects that are boldly immersive and keenly subtle, artists reimagine every facet of the KMA’s location, offering a museum that is at once familiar and strange. Inviting

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Victoria Fu, Egg (digital rendering of forthcoming installation), 2016, Inkjet on vinyl mesh over metal scaffolding. Courtesy of the artist. Simon Preston Gallery, and Honor Fraser.

visitors to walk over, under, and through artworks in the exhibition, OnSite Katonah also provides numerous opportunities for KMA Members and the wider community to join in the creation process, from serving as volunteer artist assistants working side-by-side with artist Caitlin Masley during installation, to programs surrounding an offsite public art installation by Keiran Brennan Hinton to be unveiled at sherry b dessert studio (Chappaqua, NY) this fall.

Artists in the exhibition employ formal ingenuity to transform common materials—such as plastic, rope, artificial lights, mirrors, and paint—to commanding effect. Reflection, geometry, luminosity, and rich visual texture are common threads that emerge in unexpected installations that newly sensitize viewers to the KMA’s site.  Artists include Grimanesa Amorós, Amy Brener, MaDora Frey, Keiran Brennan Hinton, Caitlin Masley, Caleb Nussear, Jason Peters, and Rachel Mica Weiss. OnSite Katonah is organized by the Katonah Museum of Art’s Associate Curator, Elizabeth Rooklidge.

Darsie Alexander, Executive Director of the Katonah Museum of Art, says, “In creating this exhibition, we wanted to think about our entire campus as an extension of our creative energy, giving artists free reign to explore the hills, gardens, and frontage of the KMA as well as making works for the gallery space. Visitors are invited to meander through our spaces, and take in the surprises and discoveries of art everywhere.”

In conjunction with OnSite Katonah, Egg, a massive new commission by Victoria Fu, will wrap the KMA’s iconic façade. Featuring a silhouetted hand holding an egg against a brilliantly colored background, the artwork re-envisions the KMA’s elegant architecture as a location for a bold and enigmatic statement.

With a deliberate twist to further engage its surrounding community, Onsite will go “offsite” in September, with a public mural by OnSite Katonah artist Keiran Brennan Hinton. Co-commissioned by the KMA, in partnership with sherry b dessert studio, the installation will begin in July, shortly after the opening of the OnSite Katonah. Several public “open studio” events inviting community members of all ages will accompany the installation process at sherry b, with the mural fully revealed on September 17th. This new partnership evidences the KMA’s and sherry b dessert studio’s shared commitment to act as catalysts for bringing art into the heart of the Westchester community.

“We are thrilled to invite such a dynamic group of artists to make their mark on the KMA” said Associate Curator Elizabeth Rooklidge. “For several artists, OnSite Katonah provides them with their first museum exhibition. We relish the opportunity to bring fresh and exciting new talent to a local and national community.”

A number of OnSite’s installations will mine the KMA’s own Edward Larrabee Barnes-designed modernist building to present fantastical visions that respond to forms observed in the Museum’s distinctive architecture. These novel interpretations echo with familiarity even while suggesting the unique psychological effects of built space on our personal experiences. Caitlin Masley’s mural in The Beatrice Coleman Hall features abstracted structures that appear to explode and reconstruct themselves piece by piece. In the new Spot Lounge, Keiran Brennan Hinton transforms paint and canvas into meditations on our encounters with the human-made environment. Amongst the Marilyn M. Simpson Sculpture Garden’s towering spruce trees, Rachel Mica Weiss presents five shelter-like structures that mimic the KMA’s architectural lines, stretching and bending them to dynamize the outdoor space.

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MaDora Frey, #6250 (digital rendering of forthcoming installation), 2016, Acrylic, LED lights, UV ink, marine plywood, gravel, approximate dimensions: 111 x 111 x 80 inches. Copyright and courtesy of the artist.

Many of the works in the exhibition seem to bridge multiple states at once—the organic and technological; the earthly and otherworldly; the past, present, and future. Grimanesa Amorós devotes a darkened Sally and Volney Righter Gallery to a light installation of plastic, bubble-like forms, which appear as glowing islands. In the Mary L. Beitzel Gallery, Jason Peters assembles over one hundred utility buckets to create an illuminated tube that loops through a grid of metal scaffolding. MaDora Frey’s installation appears in an unorthodox setting: the Museum parking lot. In this work, a crystalline construction seems to have alighted from above onto a pile of gravel. Caleb Nussear places his tessellated mirror sculptures—simultaneously mathematical and ethereal—sprawling across the green expanse of the South Lawn. Amy Brener’s installation on the Lower Campus appears at first glance as a shimmering pool of water. Upon closer inspection it reveals itself as poured resin, embedded with technological objects and natural material. Are these works relics of bygone eras, or perhaps glimpses of what will be?

Whatever questions roused, the installations in OnSite Katonah serve to expand the visitor’s understanding of the possibilities inherent in the KMA’s singular setting. Each of these artistic interventions render its entire physical space—which so deeply impacts the KMA’s institutional identity—as a platform for creative expression.

OPENING RECEPTION:

1st LOOK
Saturday, July 9, 4 – 6PM, Curator’s talk and walkthrough at 5PM
Curator’s Circle level members and above
Preview the exhibition before it opens. Associate Curator Elizabeth Rooklidge leads a walkthrough of the exhibition at 5PM.

Members’ Preview
Saturday, March 5, 6 – 8PM, Docent tour at 6:30PM
All levels of membership – KMA members receive first-access to exhibitions. Join a docent tour of OnSite Katonah at 6:30PM.

RELATED EVENTS:
Docent Tour: OnSite Katonah
Tuesday – Sunday, 2:30PM
Free with admission

1st Look/Members’ Preview Opening Reception
Saturday, July 9, 4-8PM
KMA Members and their guests only.

Creativity Club
Thursdays, July 21 – August 4, 10:00AM –  2:00PM
Pre-paid registration required, Two sections: Ages 6-9, and 10-14.
$50 members, $60 non-members for each class.
Discounts provided for multiple workshops or siblings. Please bring lunch!

Family Day: Think Like an Artist
Sunday, July 24, 12-5PM
Free

Campus Tour with Artists and Associate Curator Elizabeth Rooklidge
Sunday, September 18, 3PM
Free with admission

Campus Tour
Sunday, September 18, 3:30 pm
Join artists from OnSite Katonah for a campus tour of the Katonah Museum of Art to view works from the exhibition.

SUPPORT:
The Katonah Museum of Art is supported in part by Arts Westchester with support by the Westchester County Government, The New York State Council on the Arts with support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

ABOUT THE KATONAH MUSEUM OF ART:
The Katonah Museum of Art, through innovative exhibition and education programs, promotes the understanding and enjoyment of the visual arts for diverse audiences. The Museum presents exhibitions that explore ideas about art, culture, and society – past and present.

CURRENT AND UPCOMING EXHIBITIONS:
Aaron Curry, UGLY MESS                                           through October 2, 2016
OnSite Katonah                                                            July 10 – October 2, 2016
Victoria Fu, Egg                                                            July 10 – October 2, 2016
Matisse Drawings: Curated by                                    October 23, 2016 – January 29, 2017
Ellsworth Kelly from the Pierre and
Tana Matisse Foundation Collection

The Katonah Museum of Art is located at 134 Jay Street, Katonah, NY 10536. Museum hours are: Tuesday through Saturday from 10am – 5pm, Sunday from 12pm – 5pm, closed Monday. General admission: $10 adults, $5 seniors & students. Members & children under the age of 12 always enter free. For more information, please call (914) 232-9555 or visit http://www.katonahmuseum.org.

Stay connected with the Katonah Museum of Art on Facebook (facebook.com/KatonahMuseum), Instagram (@KatonahMuseum) and Twitter (@KatonahMuseum.)

 

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Trespassers Allowed

By Zoe Dweck

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Photo: Margaret Fox Photography

While listening to James Prosek at the Gallery Talk on March 11, I was particularly struck by something he said: “Humans draw lines everywhere, but nature doesn’t know those lines are there.” As he spoke about his constant disregard for boundaries and “No Trespassing” signs throughout his life, I reflected on my own explorations. To me, the most important part of learning is exploring interdisciplinary connections across a wide variety of subjects, whether they be art, science, math, music, or literature. As I read the exhibit description on the KMA website, I sensed that the artists were searching for the same type of connections, however in the specific context of birds and art. The artists are not only taking inspiration from the natural world, but working to reflect it in both realistic and abstract ways, as they cross lines, separating science and art, the natural world and human-made visual pieces.

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Photo courtesy of Zoe Dweck

This recital, on May 1, allows me to fully explore beyond any boundaries that could isolate one’s learning and discovery as I search for the relationships between visual art, music, and nature. Through a recital program that truly reflects the themes of the exhibit, I feel that the audience will be able to go beyond their own “No Trespassing” signs as they comprehend the connections between the high pitched, birdlike notes from the violin and the black shadows of Prosek’s birds circling the atrium.

Meet at the Katonah Museum of Art’s Atrium Sunday, May 1st at 1pm for a recital by Zoe Dweck and students from the Fox Lane High School and the Hoff­Barthelson Music School. The program is set in response to themes from the current Katonah Museum of Art exhibition, The Nest, an exhibition of art in nature. You can learn more about the event on our website. 

 

Webs Across The Nest

By Vivien Zepf
KMA Docent Trainer

You can certainly enjoy  The Nest as a collection of individual works joined together by the common theme of birds, nest-building,  and other avian instinctual practices.  However, we encourage you to delve more deeply into the context and intent of the artwork in The Nest to discover additional themes that connect works throughout the galleries and that broaden your appreciation of the exhibition.

For example, what do a woven nest,

Fiona Hall, Nest from Tender, Katonah Museum of Art The Nest 2016
Fiona Hall, Nest from Tender, 2016, US dollars. Courtesy of the artist and Roslyn Oxley 9 Gallery, Sydney, © Fiona Hall. Photo: Margaret Fox Photography

a jacket of feathers,

Sanford Biggers, Baby Ghettobird Tunic, 2006, Katonah Museum of Art The Nest 2016
Sanford Biggers, Baby Ghettobird Tunic, 2006, Bubble jacket and various bird feathers, 21 x 21 x 6 inches. Courtesy of the artist, © Sanford Biggers. Photo: Margaret Fox Phtography

and a monochromatic photograph have in common?

David Wojnarowicz, Untitled (Hand holding nest), 1988, Katonah Museum of Art, The Nest 2016
David Wojnarowicz, Untitled (Hand holding nest), 1988, Silver print, 15 7/8 x 19 7/8 inches, Edition 5/5. Courtesy of the Estate of David Wojnarowicz and P.P.O.W, © Estate of David Wojnarowicz.

Each of these works was crafted as a thoughtful and provocative reflection of the artists’ observations of their world.  Tender, by Fiona Hall, mimics a natural nest form but is woven from US dollar bills to call attention to our primal need for a home and the cash required to obtain it. Sanford Biggers’s feather festooned Baby Ghettobird Tunic speaks to the experience of black men trying to camouflage themselves in an attempt to hide from Los Angeles police helicopters  — slangily called “ghetto birds”. Untitled (Hand holding nest) was created by David Wojnarowicz as he struggled with the environment in New York City in the late 1980s during the AIDS crisis.

Social commentary is just one of the themes you’ll find in The Nest; other themes include collaborative artistic practices, and folklore and magic.  We hope you’ll explore The Nest to find more connections.  Please let us what know what themes you discover in the comments section!

 

 

Shadows around The Nest

By Vivien Zepf
KMA Docent Trainer

All manner of nests, both physical and metaphorical, are on display at the Katonah Museum of Art, giving evidence to the rich inspiration birds provide for artists and the incredible skill of birds themselves.

The lighting design in the galleries adds a delightful and thoughtful element to the exhibition, enhancing our engagement with many of the works .  Consider, for example, the shadow beneath the swift’s nest.  Because of the shadow, we can more fully appreciate the delicate arrangement of sticks and the strength of the saliva needed to secure the nest for young.

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Swift nest of sticks glued with saliva (with two eggs)

Sometimes a shadow appears to be another item in the exhibition, suspended with other items as artwork on the wall, enabling us to appreciate the nest form from another perspective.

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Crested Oropendola hanging nests suspended before a live streaming nest cam of a Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus, Savannah Georgia

Dove Bradshaw’s handwoven Home certainly references birds’ nest making practices, but the shadows seen in tandem with the honey locust thorns suggest a home that might be neither nurturing nor inviting.

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View from above Dove Bradshaw’s Home, made of honey locust thorns

The shadows that pool at the feet of Paul Villinski’s Self-Portrait add an unexpected element to his life-sized sculpture that suggests that we carry our home within us.  The intertwining lines of steel have a lovely delicacy that is emphasized by the shadows they create.

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Paul Villinski, Self-Portrait

As you travel through the exhibition, we encourage you to take note of the shadows and consider how they amplify your dialogue with or modify how you view the art. The Nest, an Exhibition of Art in Nature will be on display at the Museum through June 18th.

 

 

Katonah Museum of Art Presents The Nest, an exhibition of art in nature

PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release

Katonah Museum of Art Presents The Nest, an exhibition of art in nature

March 6 June 19, 2016

 Katonah, NY: In a provocative display that incorporates contemporary art, relics from the natural world, and items of material culture, the forthcoming exhibition The Nest, an exhibition of art in nature, examines the exquisite beauty and profound symbolism of the nest in art and culture. Organized by the Katonah Museum of Art, the exhibition opens March 6 and remains on view through June 19, 2016 in the Beitzel and Righter Galleries. It continues the KMA’s two-season thematic cycle of environmentally focused work.

Judy Pfaff, Time is Another River, 2012, Honeycomb, cardboard, expanded foam, plastics, and fluorescent light, 94 x 72 x 20 inches, © Judy Pfaff, Courtesy of the artist
Judy Pfaff, Time is Another River, 2012, Honeycomb, cardboard, expanded foam, plastics, and fluorescent light, 94 x 72 x 20 inches, © Judy Pfaff, Courtesy of the Artist.

THE EXHIBITION

Drawing its inspiration from the extraordinary form of the bird’s nest, the exhibition examines how the fundamental drive to gather, assemble, and create is a function of both nature and the artistic process. Whether it be a finely executed sculpture formed out of an intricate web of design or a fantastical nest that was in fact created by a bird, the exhibition offers a rare opportunity to consider the creative impulse from multiple vantage points. For many visitors, nest means “home,” a place to find rest and protection. For others, it is a testament to the exceptional agility and speed of the smallest creatures who create individual habitats that are truly awe-inspiring. By incorporating works that exist within disparate realms—from art to outdoors—the exhibition prompts deep questions about the relationship between all living things, and the objects they produce for both pleasure and survival.

The Nest includes a stunning blend of authentic nests and over twenty works by eighteen artists from the United States, to Germany, to South Africa. In work that ranges from sculpture, painting, collage, photography, to video, these artists underscore the universality of this theme as a metaphor of home, creation, and the life of birds. Throughout the galleries, visitors encounter an exhibition rich in visual texture: sumptuously-colored feathers, shimmering gold leaf, organic twigs, neon plastic, minimalist black-and-white graphics, and more. Some works invoke notions of protection, birth, and the physical human body, while others explore the nest in more symbolic terms.

Real birds’ nests from the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History collection also populate the galleries, selections from one of the most extensive and significant collections in North America.  Nests on loan to the KMA include those as diverse as the hornero bird’s, made of mud and resembling a wood-fired oven, to that of the weaver bird, whose complex woven structures count among the most elaborate of birds’ nests. The nests’ presentation in the galleries, integrated amongst the works of art, suggest the many resonances between the human and natural worlds.  In addition to these remarkable pieces, bird cams appear on monitors installed throughout the galleries, introducing a view of live birds into the context of natural materials and art objects.

THE ARTISTS

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James Prosek, Tree of Life (detail), 2016, Acrylic and vinyl paint on sheet rock, Site-Sprecific installation for the Katonah Museum of Art, Courtesy of the artist and Schwartz-Wajahat, New York.

Artist and naturalist James Prosek will create a new site-specific installation in the Museum’s Atrium. Prosek’s past wall murals—featuring black and white images of numbered, silhouetted birds and other animals—have contemplated the ways in which humans attempt to order and classify the natural world. His work for the Katonah Museum of Art will incorporate wall-bound sculptural elements into the painted graphic imagery, representing a new evolution of the artist’s practice.

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Björn Braun, Untitled (zebra finch’s nest), 2015, Coconut fiber, plastic bag, silver tinsel, golden tinsel, and artificial plastic plants, 4.5 x 7 x 6 inches, Courtesy of the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery.

Investigating the ways in which birds themselves act as makers, German artist Björn Braun collaborates with a pair of zebra finches he has raised to create nest sculptures from re-purposed materials, such as aluminum foil and colored string. Judy Pfaff’s work, Time is Another River, integrates varied materials such as honeycomb, plastic, cardboard, and foam in a human-scale, nest-like form that evokes the making methods of both organic and architectural construction.

Dove Bradshaw weaves together honey locust thorns in an accumulative strategy akin to that used by birds when making their nests. Titled Home, the work suggests the animal and human need for dwelling, and the effort to create a structure of protection. In another work, Bradshaw casts a goose eggshell in 18 karat gold, invoking the Aesop’s fable The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg—a warning against greed and the desire for immediacy.

Rather than considering tales related to the nest and its occupants, Paul Villinski explores the relationship between the nest and the physical human body. His life-size, sculptural self-portrait includes a bird’s nest settled in the figure’s belly.  Additional artists (including Sharon Beals, Sanford Biggers, John Burtle, Walton Ford, Shiela Hale, Fiona Hall, Porky Hefer, Nina Katchadourian, Louise Lawler, Hunt Slonem, Kiki Smith, Andreas Sterzing, and David Wojnarowicz among others) continue such lines of investigation into the aesthetic forms and metaphorical themes of the nest.

The Nest, an exhibition of art in nature provides an unexpected lens through which to observe the fascinating parallels between human and animal behavior, raising timely questions about the survival of the birds and their habitats in our increasingly fragile ecological world.

OPENING RECEPTION:

1st LOOK
Saturday, March 5, 4 – 6PM
Curator’s talk and walkthrough at 5PM
Curator’s Circle level members and above – Preview the exhibition before it opens. Associate Curator Elizabeth Rooklidge leads a walkthrough of the exhibition at 5PM.

Members’ Preview
Saturday, March 5, 6 – 8PM
Docent tour at 6:30PM
All levels of membership – KMA members receive first-access to exhibitions. Join a docent tour of The Nest, an exhibition of art and nature at 6:30PM.

SUPPORT:
The Nest, an exhibition of art in nature is made possible by support from Victoria and Stephen Morris, Judy and Michael Steinhardt, The Durst Organization, and George Bianco. The Katonah Museum of Art is supported in part by Arts Westchester with support by the Westchester County Government, The New York State Council on the Arts with support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

ABOUT THE KATONAH MUSEUM OF ART:
The Katonah Museum of Art, through innovative exhibition and education programs, promotes the understanding and enjoyment of the visual arts for diverse audiences. The Museum presents exhibitions that explore ideas about art, culture, and society – past and present.

The Katonah Museum of Art is located at 134 Jay Street, Katonah, NY 10536. Museum hours are: Tuesday through Saturday from 10am – 5pm, Sunday from 12pm – 5pm, closed Monday. General admission: $10 adults, $5 seniors & students. Members & children under the age of 12 always enter free. For more information, please call (914) 232-9555 or visit http://www.katonahmuseum.org.

Stay connected with the Katonah Museum of Art on Facebook (facebook.com/KatonahMuseum), Instagram (@KatonahMuseum) and Twitter (@KatonahMuseum.)

 

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Henrik Håkansson

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Henrik Håkansson, Untitled (Cocos Nucifera), 2006/2015; Palm, aluminum, watering system, and metal halide light; Courtesy of Rennie Collection, Vancouver; Photo by Margaret Fox Photography

Swedish artist Henrik Håkansson’s most recent works, such as Untitled here at the KMA, are created to invite viewers to be observers, to come in closer.  As it stretches towards us and the light, we have an opportunity to see a 12-foot palm from a perspective most often reserved for the birds.  We can move about it freely and admire the symmetry of the palm fronds, perhaps contrasting them to the branches in Graham’s photograph across the room.

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View of palm fronds, Photo courtesy of Vivien Zepf

Are there any other reasons why Håkansson might have chosen to exhibit the palm in Untitled on its side?  Before answering that question, consider how your geography and personal history might influence your response. As a Westerner, you might dream of beach-side vacations replete with palms blowing gently in the wind.  However, in some Pacific communities and countries the palm is a food and material source, and an important cash crop.  A downed palm could spell disaster.

You might also wonder how the tree is impacted by its fabricated micro-climate.  It has all it needs to survive but some are unsettled by this unusual view.  Certainly most of us have house plants.  Is this any different?

Håkansson’s work and presentation decisions task us with noting the beauty of nature while challenging us to consider how man can manipulate a living being or environment to suit our needs.

Roger Hiorns

 

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Roger Hiorns, Untitled Series; Plastic, compressors, and foam. Margaret Fox Photography

Hiorns’s unique combination of materials in this series of pieces make him an alchemist, transforming reclaimed auto parts and oozing bubbles into unique memories and entities for each viewer.  The flow of the foam seeping along the constructed bodies suggest organic motion and natural lines amid mechanical parts.  This duality is just one of many: for example, inert objects become animated and dirty car parts spew clean bubbles.

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SupraEnvironmental Installation View, Margaret Fox Photography

Hiorns was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 2009 for his work in London called Seizure.  Like that work, the pieces at the KMA showcase reactions as integral to his artistic process.  These reactions are allowed to interact with an object unrestrained, occasionally engulfing it, but always creating a new form.  Each piece is carefully engineered but then allowed to develop into its own structures because, as Hiorns describes it, the materials “have their own autonomy and their own aesthetic which simply takes me out of the equation.”

When you visit the museum, view the installation from the atrium, stand next to the pieces in the gallery, and also walk among them.   We encourage you to imagine what the pieces in Roger Hiorns’s Untitled Series suggest to you.  Consider how your perspective might change as you shift how you interact with the pieces.  How have they transformed for you?

 

David Brooks

Did you know there’s a timeline reaching back beyond the demise of the dinosaurs within the atrium of the KMA ?

It’s true.

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David Brooks, Repositioned Core, 2014. Photo courtesy of Margaret Fox

The core sample from the Permian Basin in Texas that is the centerpiece of David Brooks’s installation, Repositioned Core, represents approximately 250 million years of our Earth’s history. Presented on elevated scaffolding that dives through the atrium and comes to rest in the sculpture garden outside the museum, the installation allows us to marvel at and imagine what’s been captured within what Brooks called a “material documentation of the dynamic processes that came together for a duration of time…. the unique but disparate linkages of time and constituents” within our planet’s dynamic history.

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Photo courtesy of Vivien Zepf

With the opportunity to get close to the core, visitors have the opportunity to share space with two dimensions at once: our collective past and our present.  Come to the KMA to see the history that’s literally within reach and speculate what it might also represent for our future.

Wim Delvoye

Belgian artist Wim Delvoye has said, “Each of my pieces demonstrates that to be an artist is a choice.”

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Wim Delvoye, Unititled (Car Tyre), 2011 Photo courtesy of Margaret Fox

That choice is clear when viewing Delvoye’s Untitled, a car tire that has been beautifully transformed into a delicate ring by meticulous hand carving.  Who but an artist would be able to evoke a metamorphosis from  a common every day item into a form covered in flowing lines and imagery?

Similarly, Delvoye manipulates tire tracks and spoke patterns designed for bicycle or wheelchair wheels to create a new piece evocative of movement within a static but twisted shape.

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Wim Delvoye, Dunlop Geomax 100/90-19 57M 720 2x, 2013, photo courtesy of Vivien Zepf

 

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Dunlop Geomax 100/90-19 57M 720 2x, 2013, seen from above, photo courtesy of Vivien Zepf

 

Critic Bernard Marcadé states “The transformation of the impersonal industrial object into a supreme work of artisanry allows Delvoye to juxtapose seemingly opposite values.” We’d like to challenge you to look for the duality at play within Delvoye’s pieces on display in the Beitzel Gallery.  Here, we’ll help get you started: 1) hand craftsmanship on a mechanically mass-produced item; and, 2) opaque rubber and light.

Rodney Graham

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Rodney Graham, Black Cottonwood Tree, Spanish Banks Tree, 2012

No, don’t adjust your screen or flip your computer.  The image you see is exactly as the artist, Rodney Graham, intended.

Why would an artist choose to present a inverted photograph?

To answer that, we have to look back at the origins of capturing images, to the camera obscura.  The camera obscura, or pinhole camera, is a darkened box with a single hole that allows light in, strikes the surface opposite the hole, and reveals an inverted replica of the scene beyond the hole. (A short history of photography, starting with the camera obscura, is available here.)

Rodney Graham began his exploration of the tree form with a camera obscura he built himself that was the size of a small shed (Camera Obscura, 1979).  Viewers would walk inside the structure and see images of trees on the back wall.  This wasn’t just a nod to the past, but also an acknowledgment of how our eyes work as well.  Images that appear on our retina are upside-down, and are only “right side up” after our brain interprets the signal sent by the optic nerve.

Come and explore the details of this 7 foot tall monochromatic print that challenge you to see things from a new perspective. See how it feels to have the earth above and the sky below.