In View of Nature


September 30 - January 12, 2000

 

Beth Gaston
Wall Fragment (The Ginkgos Fell Green Last Year),
1998

 

In View of Nature includes the work of nine artists who explore a range of ideas about nature as a medium and a subject. The exhibition includes large-scale installations, sculpture, photography, video, and computer-based, multimedia work.

Artifice and the representation of nature is examined in the lurid, color-saturated landscapes of Kim Keever. Dramatic vistas, backlighted mountain ledges, and swirling clouds provide the basic elements of these romantic landscapes which seem to epitomize the 19th century sublime. Keever's Cibachrome photographs of other worldly locations leave one wondering where such places might be found. They are, in fact, manufactured with plaster models, gels, lighting, and dyes inside a 150-gallon fish tank.

In Laura Anderson Barbata's Proyecto de Automarcacion (Self-Demarcation Project), natural materials are employed to explore cultural and social issues metaphorically. In this installation orchid leaves shaped in the outlines of a map of the Ye'Kuana territory in the Venezuelan Amazon are interlaced with torn pieces of the New Testament, alluding to the impact of an outside culture on indigenous people, and visually highlighting the path of access. The map, based on boundaries defined by the Ye'Kuana community, describes topological features as well as locations associated with their origin myths. This work, like others which have grown out of Barbata's projects in the region, deal with loss of identity associated with the loss of language and of culture.

Sitting in a chair upholstered in grass (fed by a hydroponics system) one experiences nature through a number of senses in Michele Brody's large-scale installation, Land-Scaping, 1999–including the sensation of sitting on damp ground. The smell of grass is immediately apparent. Scrim-like gauze imbedded with seeds create three-dimensional drawings with blades of grass and root systems. The viewer is aligned within the structure to see the gardens, architecture, and life of the campus through this veil–outside the gallery window. The setting is private and contemplative, but at the same time, focuses the viewer's attention beyond to the outside world.

Beth Galston's basic materials are found in nature. In the gallery, twenty-foot fluted columns of sycamore leaves define a space that is almost architectural. Nearby there is a triangular structure in which ginkgo leaves are suspended. Intervening in the natural process of decay, Galston's installations capture light and materials in a urethane resin. Her media includes acorns, seed pods, sweet gum balls, and leaves in a process that imposes an order to the randomness that is nature.

Nade Haley uses light, reflection, and shadows to create installations based on nature. Her sandblasted images on plate glass are derived from photographs she takes–salmon swimming up stream, the granular surface of a rock cliff, or the shimmer of water on a lake. Using projected slides, Haley hand-cuts stencils of the image and sandblasts the glass. An illusory pyramid is created by reflected light bouncing off nine squares of glass in the work Pavritti, 1997. Its title from Sanscrit, alludes to seeing things from a new vantage point–like standing on one's head. In another work, Water II, 1999, light on water glistens and bleeds out of its rectangular framework. These images are as ephemeral as their medium–projected light.

Rob de Mar's work offers whimsical, stylized out-takes from the natural world and provides a "Toys R Us" vision of nature–from hilltop landscapes to curving slopes with highways. His biomorphic land-forms on spindle-like stands contain cryptic messages–scrawled into a Southwestern corral or amid a cluster of Northwest pines. Above eye level a stone wall runs along a felted property and its well plunges below the surface of the ground. These sculptures are landscapes in miniature.

Tom Thulen's photographs offer minimalist compositions suggesting the horizon-dominant landscapes of the Midwest. Printed on transparent film, loosely mounted within a box, the compositions use formal and technical devices–repeated images, overlapped films, and blurred edges–to reduce the landscape to a bare geometry. Rumples and twists of the film produce shadows as an additional element. In Winter Field rows in a farmer's field converge in a vanishing point. A hedge row of skeletal trees in Land Composition #2, 1999, repeats the image within a grided format.

Jim Toia integrates natural materials with man-made. In his work, Abrupt Conversation, 1996, an entire pine tree is cut into segments, bolted with metal plates and hinged together. Arranged in a spiral, its spiky branches seem vaguely threatening. Configured for the site, the the tree has been put in its place by the imposed hardware but is clearly striking back. In another installation, also configured for the site, slices of ornamental plum branches create patterns inspired by mathematics.

Janet Zweig contributes a computer-based work, Everything in the World, 1997, in which a fragile pastel drawing based on a 17th century Dutch landscape (drawn by Laura Bergman), is gradually eroded and destroyed. As the large wheel of computer paper on which the drawing is executed slowly prints, the natural is replaced with the man-made; and the traditional is replaced with the technological. The sounds of a computer printer punctuate the silence of the gallery as horizon, clouds, distant lakes, and fields are translated into a binary code. The code, permutations of all possible combinations, provides the mathematical equivalent to all possible phenomenon–everything in the world.

- Susan Hoeltzel
Director

 

Installation view of Jim Toia's Abrupt Compensation, 1996. In the background are Kim Keever's Where l go, 1998, Best of Blue, 1998, and Heart Light, 1999.

 

 

 

 

Installation view of Beth Gastons' Leaf Dreams (2nd Version), 1997 and Sycamore Log, 1998 as well as Nade Haley's Pavritti, 1997.

 

 

Rob De Mar
If I could,
1998

 

Michele Brody
Land-Scaping,
1999

Janet Zweig
Everything in the World, 1997

Laura Anderson Barbata
Proyecto de Automarcacion (Self-Demarcation
Project),
1996

Exhibition Checklist

Michele Brody

Landscaping, 1999
fabric, grass, wood, copper and lights
Courtesy of the Artist

Laura Anderson Barbata

Proyocto deAutodemarcacion (Self-Demarcation Project), 1996
orchid leaves, wax, and pins
Courtesy of the Artist

Rob De Mar

I Wonder, 1998
mixed media
Courtesy of the Artist

If I Could, 1998
mixed media
Courtesy of the Artist

Mountain II, 1998
mixed media
Courtesy of the Artist

Beth Galston

Wall Fragment (The Ginkgos Fell Green Last Year), 1998
urethane resin and ginkgo leaves
Courtesy of the Artist

Leaf Dreams (2nd Version), 1997
sycamore leaves and monofilament
Courtesy of the Artist

Sycamore Log, 1998
urethane resin and sycamore leaves
Courtesy of the Artist

Seed Log, 1999 urethane resin and seed pods
Courtesy of the Artist

Untitled, 1996
sandblasted glass, nickel plated frame, fish hook and line,
grey gessoed rectangle and shadow
Courtesy of the Artist

Nade Haley

Pavritti, 1997
9 sandblasted glass squares and leko
Courtesy of the Artist

Water II, 1999
leko and sandblasted tempered glass
Courtesy of the Artist

Kim Keever

Where l go, 1998
Cibachrome and plexi
Courtesy of the Artist

Best of Blue, 1998
Cibachrome and plexi
Courtesy of the Artist

Heart Light, 1999
Cibachrome and plexi
Courtesy of the Artist

Jim Toia

Tree of False Assurances with Two Paintings, 1997
sycamore and ornamental plum slices
Courtesy of Kim Foster Gallery

Abrupt Compensation, 1996
pine tree, plate steel, and hinges
Courtesy of Kim Foster Gallery

Tom Thulen

Winter Field, 1999
photograph/film
Courtesy of the Artist

Lake Michigan Untitled, 1999
photograph/film
Courtesy of the Artist

Large Lake Horizon, 1998
photograph/film
Courtesy of the Artist

Land Composition #2 1999
photograph/film

Courtesy of the Artist

Janet Zweig (with Laura Bergman)

Everything in the World, 1997
mixed medium
Courtesy of the Artist