TENDING TOWARD THE UNTAMED: ARTISTS RESPOND TO THE WILD GARDEN
Wave Hill’s signature Wild Garden serves as an inspiration for eight artists who are creating new work in a variety of media, including painting, animation, photography, sculpture and a new media installation in Glyndor Gallery. The artists are particularly interested in the garden’s display of species from around the world, as well as in the tension between the Wild Garden’s seemingly untamed appearance and the intensive activity required to create and maintain it. Works by Isabella Kirkland and Anat Shiftan portray the remarkable variety of plants represented in the Wild Garden, while Julie Evans and Rebecca Morales embrace its diverse plant palette and mix of spontaneity and control. Gary Carsley, Chris Doyle and Erik Sanner capture the stimulating experience of viewing the garden’s varied and immersive terrain; Janelle Lynch shares their interest in the cycles of change represented by the growth, continual maintenance and decomposition of the Wild Garden’s plants over the seasons.
Based on concepts championed by Irish gardener William Robinson in the 1870’s, the Wild Garden achieves a relaxed, serendipitous quality that contrasts with more formal parts of Wave Hill’s landscape. Wave Hill horticultural staff have undertaken a transformation of the Wild Garden in the last year, rejuvenating flower beds, opening new vistas to the Hudson River and Palisades and improving pathways, all with an eye to restoring the balance between the amount of light experienced in this part of the garden and the feeling of enclosure that is characteristic of this garden “room.” The Wild Garden provides a framework for the new art created for this spring’s exhibition.
Gary Carsley is creating an installation of IKEA furniture that is lined with composite images made up of pictures gathered from successive visits to Wave Hill’s Wild Garden over the past year. His manipulation and reconfiguration of garden views, sections of which are substituted with fragments of faux wood grain, stand in for the artifice of the garden. Based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and Sydney, Australia, Carsley has exhibited at Breenspace, Sydney; Art Gallery of New South Wales; and the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane. He is represented by Margaret Thatcher Projects in New York, NY.
Chris Doyle’s new animation piece is drawn from images of the Wild Garden that will be presented on a pair of screens arranged like an open book. The artist uses animation to explore the concept of wildness and our cultural desire to preserve, untouched, bits of our environment. This work is part of a larger project that contrasts the savage with the civilized. Doyle is a multidisciplinary artist based in Brooklyn, NY. His work has been shown at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY; The Taubman Museum of Art, Roanoke, VA; Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams, MA; MoMA PS1, Long Island City, NY; The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY.
Julie Evans’s project—painting/collage on mylar—emphasizes the fine balance between natural abandon and careful cultivation as they relate to both the garden and her working process. To create her vibrant, evocative works on paper, the artist pours water-based media on mylar; gravity and chemistry cause the media to spread and flow. She then cuts out and reassembles abstract shapes into clusters of growth. Evans is based in the Hudson Valley. Her recent exhibition Cowdust: Julie Evans and Ajay Sharma, Collaborative Paintings was on view at Julie Saul Gallery, New York, NY, in 2010. She had another recent solo exhibition at Rambagh Palace in Jaipur, India, which was curated by Peter Nagy.
For this exhibition, Janelle Lynch expands on themes in her previous work to explore the natural cycle of decomposition. She will show large-format photographs of composted debris from the Wild Garden. Lynch is based in New York and her photographs of the urban and rural landscape have been widely exhibited and collected. Los Jardines de México (Radius Books), her first monograph, was published in 2011, and a related exhibition traveled to venues in Mexico City, Santa Fe and Boston.
Los Angeles-based artist Rebecca Morales is creating a large gouache and watercolor painting on calf vellum drawn from her interest in moss and lichen. This imagery is combined with colorful representations of floral prints. She is also exhibiting a hyper-resolution, stop-action film that reveals the unfolding of the painting process. Morales’s work was on view in a two-person show at Bravin Lee Programs, New York, NY, in January 2012. She has also been featured in exhibitions at Daniel Weinberg Gallery and the Hammer Museum, both in Los Angeles, CA.
Isabella Kirkland’s monumental canvases typically feature flora and fauna, painted life-size from first-hand observation to ensure accuracy of detail. Departing from her usual scale and process, for this exhibition the artist is making a group of framed watercolors measuring approximately five inches by seven inches. These images are drawn from photographs that she has taken of the Wild Garden. Kirkland is also producing a three foot by four foot oil painting of the magnificent view seen from the garden, with representations of endangered or threatened species of insects, birds and other animals in and among the flowers. Kirkland lives and works in Sausalito, CA. She has had solo exhibitions at Feature Inc., New York, NY; the Toledo Art Museum, Toledo, OH; and the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC.
Erik Sanner is presenting a new media installation that involves computer-generated video based on time-lapse photography of the garden shot from spring to late summer. This mix of images results in an unpredictable, ever-changing montage that will be projected onto the artist’s paintings of the late summer garden. Sanner’s project expands on his technique of creating “moving paintings” by focusing on a specific site, in this case the variable landscape of the Wild Garden. He has had a solo show at Carmichael Gallery in LA (2011), and is represented by LICHT FELD in Basel, Switzerland. Sanner's work is included in the East Wing X exhibit at the Courtauld Institute in London through July 2013. He has received two Manhattan Community Arts Fund Grants from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.
Anat Shiftan is creating an index of plants in the Wild Garden, by making a series of columnar, ceramic vase forms that are glazed with botanical drawings in manganese brown and black. The shape of the forms is modern but the porcelain glazing technique refers to traditional ceramics. Shiftan is an Israeli artist living in New Paltz, NY. Her work was included in two recent ceramics shows at the Clay Art Center in Port Chester, NY, and at Flushing Town Hall in Queens, NY. She has had solo exhibitions at Greenwich House Pottery in New York and The Clay Studio in Philadelphia.