Nature. Nay-cher. No matter how many times you say it, it remains one of those words that can simultaneously mean something very specific and be a blanket statement. This partnered specificity and elusiveness is undoubtedly symptomatic of a multitude of contextual and colloquial phrases: human nature, mother nature, all natural, go for a walk in nature, the nature of the game, the nature of all things… we could go on. So what does this word actually mean? What does it signify? And how does one grapple with it, especially in a unique visual vocabulary?
This is what each of the InLiquid Artists in "Reinterpreting Landscape and Nature" tackle (successfully I should add). As stated by Barbara Harberger, this exhibition’s curator, these 8 artists share a sensibility through which they approach their work. By taking cues from the natural world, they tease out and make connections among abstracted elements which surround them. These artists couldn’t be more diverse, and yet, there is a core that ties them all together.
The word nature, after all, derives from the Latin "natura" which can loosely translate to "essence," "innate disposition," or even "birth." So whether we’re talking about the grown-out-of-the-Earth wood that Michele Kishita works both with and upon, or the way that Margery Amdur transcends her medium by convincing us that sponges are a landscape in and of themselves, we find ideas and aesthetics that challenge our concepts of nature. Bold, saturated, vibrant colors emerge throughout this exhibition from the impetus of what nature is or could be. So often when one says "natural colors," our brains have been trained to draw up olive or sage greens and any hue of brown, but "natural" in that sense actually means so many things. What about the vibrant red in a hibiscus? Or the near-neon green of algae? Have we considered that all human creations, because we are a part of nature, could feasibly be argued as "natural?"
Then what exactly ties together the beautifully (dare I say pure?) white, organic forms of Won Choi, the all-encompassing interpretation of birth, life, and death in a single sculpture entitled "Jesus" by Thomas Miles, and the strikingly impressive, realistic yet obscure, 2D works of reflections on architecture by Justin Rubich? How about the lively, architectonic interpretations of city life by Miriam Singer, the translation of plant matter into dyed paper forms that allude to human-made and Earth-made structures by Mallary Johnson, and the mesmerizingly exploratory cellular mindscapes of Rebecca Jacoby?
Maybe it’s their riffing off of patterns that occur naturally within their chosen materials. Or perhaps the likes of Sol LeWitt and his contemporaries were onto something when asserting that the core of beauty is the notion that geometry underlies the nature of all things. But there’s one of those phrases again. It seems to me that "Reinterpreting Landscape and Nature" asserts just that – it’s all about the nature of that word itself: ever elusive, always specific, and leaves us questioning our perception every time we (attempt to) put our finger on it.
Reinterpret with us through October 29th!