"Dear Mother Nature" at the Dorsky | Visual Art | Hudson Valley | Hudson Valley; Chronogram
Pin It
Favorite

"Dear Mother Nature" at the Dorsky 

Listen to Your Mother

An installation view of “Dear Mother Nature” at the Dorsky Museum with works by Paul Stewart, Jim Holl, Joan Bankemper, Meadow, Claire Lambe, Ellen Levy, Sherry Williams, Leila Goldthwaite, Ilse Schreiber-Noll, and Susan Quasha.

An installation view of “Dear Mother Nature” at the Dorsky Museum with works by Paul Stewart, Jim Holl, Joan Bankemper, Meadow, Claire Lambe, Ellen Levy, Sherry Williams, Leila Goldthwaite, Ilse Schreiber-Noll, and Susan Quasha.


Ask yourself: “When was the last time I saw nature inside a white-walled gallery?” No, not paintings of nature—Mother Nature herself with her many faces and moods. “When did I have a rich conversation about nature and ecology as art (call it eco art) without coming up only with some outdoor, far-flung 70’s Land Art?” Ask: “Though Mother Nature is beleaguered, can I still celebrate her?” Well, you’ll soon find out. “Dear Mother Nature: Hudson Valley Artists 2012,” the group show exhibiting through November 4 curated by artist and environmentalist Linda Weintraub at the Samuel Dorsky Museum, is a sincere expression of the answers you might allow yourself.

The work on view by 42 Hudson Valley artists is an offering that both problematizes and celebrates our commitments to our mother. It invites many questions, without requiring that any one answer dominate any other. So if you suppose that the story on view at the Dorsky is the story of Mother Nature herself—concern and celebration—the art here invites an open-ended, life-affirming, and endearing conversation, one that won’t end when you walk out of the museum doors.

In effect, the museum and gallery context, here, has been reformatted to suit contemporary eco art. We’re not being lectured by seemingly heroic “land artists” like Robert Smithson and Michael Heizer; we’re chatting at eye level. Take for instance, Portia Munson’s installation as reliquary, a house to hold all our mistakes. Jim Holl’s piece suggests we’re one turn, maybe one mistake away from Mother’s wrath; our fortunes swing by her strings. Christy Rupp’s sculptures of microscopic filter feeders suggest that though Mother’s looking out for us, there’s only so much she can do. Eventually the filter feeders that have helped clean the detritus of the Gulf oil spill will show up in our food supply. Leila Goldthwaithe offers up a trophied feast of handmade creatures you can’t find in any local body of water. This, because we’ve destroyed the ecosystems that until recently sustained what are now near-extinct populations. We carry much of the blame for our mother’s condition.

Yet we should celebrate our mother. And how better to celebrate her than to consider ways to revitalize her constitution? Consider, then, Daniel Mack’s installation of detrital driftwood that suggests idols in twilight, that one gesture or a few marks the difference between the ordinary and the extraordinary. Polly Giragosian’s earth-caked clothes for Mother’s wrathful children might just calm their rage. (I hope so; especially during this drought-ridden summer.) Khem Caigan’s careful alchemical turns refine our mother’s hidden bounties in a way I, in my slapdash painter ways, can’t fathom; though I suspect I’d be a better person if I did.

Paul G. Stewart’s precariously balanced sculpture makes material mother’s balancing act and suggests we must balance our own priorities better if we are to save her. Kathleen Anderson’s tribute—or better, pilgrimage—traces the contours of her body along the Hudson River. Angela Basile offers a view of technology on life support, infected and about to be undone by nature’s stealthy shoots. You might wonder, is this an aspiration or ironic commentary, or both?

Now, there are still 32 other discrete bodies of work I haven’t even touched on and a few are one-shot only performances. Each visit to the show can throw open a new view on the world, if you’ll allow it. So let us go then you and I and reconstitute mother to her working glory so that we need no longer defame our virtue nor dilute our commitments to the significant ends we’ve each proposed for our lives.

“Dear Mother Nature: Hudson Valley Artists 2012” will be exhibited through November 4 at the Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz. On August 25, at 2pm, curator Linda Weintraub will give a gallery talk. At 3pm, artist Mary Anne Davis will prepare a ceremonial meal with local food, part of her ongoing Mala Meal Project. (845) 257-3844; Newpaltz.edu/museum
Pin It
Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Hudson Valley Events

submit event
RoCA Nest 2019 @ Rockland Center for the Arts

RoCA Nest 2019

April 27-30, 2-5 p.m. — A site-specific installation, by Cristina Biaggi. During the last twenty years Cristina...
Summer Flowers @ Gallery at 46 Green Street

Summer Flowers

Aug. 10-Sept. 29 — Summer Flowers combines plant drawings, glass sculpture and wall drawings by songwriter...

View all of today's events

Chronogram on Instagram

Latest in Arts & Culture

  • A Little Touch of Stardust: Where to Celebrate 50 Years of Woodstock in the Hudson Valley
  • A Little Touch of Stardust: Where to Celebrate 50 Years of Woodstock in the Hudson Valley

    Here in the Hudson Valley and Catskills there’s a coziness about the Woodstock '69 50th anniversary. While tie dye and tolerance have never really gone out of style around here, those who’d like to mark the anniversary in some way have a number of local goings-on to slake their thirst for nostalgia, peace, love and music. Hey now, we still know how to brew that stuff from scratch.
    • Aug 16, 2019
  • Voices of the Earth Festival at Seed Song Farm
  • Voices of the Earth Festival at Seed Song Farm

    The first ever Voices of the Earth Festival on Labor Day weekend brings together musicians, dancers, artists, and speakers of both indigenous and transplanted heritage, with environmental groups to inspire a culture of celebration and action toward a healthy Earth.
    • Aug 15, 2019
  • Iconic Woodstock-New Paltz Art and Crafts Fair is Paradise For Lovers of the Handmade
  • Iconic Woodstock-New Paltz Art and Crafts Fair is Paradise For Lovers of the Handmade

    The Ulster County Fairgrounds in New Paltz will transform into a wonderland of creativity, packed with dozens of masterful makers: fiber artists, metal sculptors, woodcrafters, fine artists, jewelers and more for the Woodstock-New Paltz Art and Crafts Fair, which has been happening each Memorial Day and Labor Day for nearly four decades.
    • Aug 15, 2019
  • More »