Newsroom

February 24, 1998

Middlebury College Museum of Art Presents "After Eden: Garden Varieties in Contemporary Art"

With Materials Ranging From Plastic to Plaster, 12 Artists Explore the Garden

"After Eden: Garden Varieties in Contemporary Art," an exhibition on display from March 14 through May 31 in the Middlebury College Museum of Art on Route 30, includes works by painters, sculptors, photographers and installation artists.

Curators Suzanne Bocanegra, visiting assistant professor of studio art, and Emmie Donadio, associate director of the Middlebury College Museum of Art, determined to demonstrate the variety of ways in which contemporary artists go about their work, and put together an exhibit that offers widely divergent views of the artistic enterprise. The artists all make use of images and ideas of the garden in their works, but there the commonality ends.

Included in the exhibition is work by Jenny Holzer, whose written texts have appeared in exhibitions at major museums throughout the world in a variety of forms, from lead signs to engravings in stone. Holzer's works have political content, and some of her best known texts are the truisms: "abuse of power comes as no surprise," or "lack of charisma can be fatal." On Middlebury's campus, a black granite bench from Holzer's "Under a Rock" series, which carries a feminist theme, is located by the pond behind the Center for the Arts.

Also outdoors, just beyond the confines of the museum walls on the plaza of the Center for the Arts, is Dan Graham's "Two-Way Mirror Curved Hedge Zig-Zag Labyrinth," a garden pavilion in the style of eighteenth-century rationalist architecture. In May, the College's Committee on Art in Public Places will oversee the planting of a tree and basalt marker from a work of "social sculpture" by the influential German artist Joseph Beuys (1921-86). Beuys used the term "social sculpture" to suggest his utopian belief that art has more than an aesthetic function. This tree and marker are from the project "7,000 Oaks" that Beuys inaugurated in industrialized Kassel, Germany, in 1982, giving the city a greener look.

In contrast to works arranged as permanent structures are those by contemporary sculptor Andy Goldsworthy, who lives in Scotland and conceives of works that are purposefully transient. Goldsworthy is represented in the exhibition through his photographic documentation of a cairn, a mound of stones forming a marker, topped by alternating layers of snow and dirt.

The installation "True Love" by Swedish artist Henrik HÃ¥kansson uses Drosophilacommon fruit fliesalong with Venus flytrap plants. Other works include a transportable indoor garden titled "A Moveable Land," by Paula Hayes, a professional horticulturist and conceptual artist. The works of Peter Campus, a pioneer video artist, will show computer-altered, digital photographs and a video rumination on the theme of death.

Leslie Fry's life-size female figures clothed in leaves and moss, and Susan Wides' photographs of flowers as they appear in botanical gardensin close proximity to their identifying markerswill also grace the exhibitiion.

The plastic flowers embedded in concrete in Tony Feher's small sculpture are not likely to appear in botanical gardens, and the gardeners in Kerry James Marshall's complex collages tend their plots of flowers or vegetables in housing projects with names like Watts or Altgelt Gardens. Both Feher and Marshall's visions of the garden differ considerably from Monet's.

At some remove from paradise too, although they are seductive, contemplative places, are the gardens painted by Mike Glier. With stone wall enclosures, these gardens show unmistakable signs of combat that evoke from the viewer an unusual range of emotional responses.

The exhibition will remain on view through May 31, but the Dan Graham and the Joseph Beuys works will remain permanently installed on the College campus.

"After Eden: Garden Varieties in Contemporary Art" will open on Saturday, March 14, with a building-wide party in the Center for the Arts from 8 to 11 p.m., with music by ViperHouse, a nine-piece jazz funk fusion orchestra. Decorations and food will reflect a garden theme.

Exhibit Programming

Programming for the exhibition includes a gallery talk, slide lectures and a poetry reading. A catalog of the exhibition also will be available at the museum reception and sales desk. The co-curators will give a gallery talk at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17, following a pre-performance dinner at 6 p.m. at Rehearsals Cafe in the Center for the Arts, on Route 30.

Slide lectures by artists Paula Hayes on March 31 and Mike Glier on April 15 will take place at 7:30 p.m. in Room 304 in the Christian A. Johnson Memorial Building off College Street (Route 125).

At 4:30 p.m. on April 2 there will be a poetry reading in the exhibition followed by a reception. Middlebury College English Professors John Elder, Robert Pack and John Wilders will each read poems about the garden.

Eleanor Heartney, founding writer for The New Art Examiner and frequent contributor to Art in America, has written an introductory essay for the catalog of the exhibition. She will give a slide lecture in the Concert Hall of the Center for the Arts on Thursday, April 9 at 4:30 p.m.

All events, with the exception of dinner at Rehearsals Cafe at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17, are free and open to the public. To make dinner reservations, contact the Center for the Arts box office at 802-443-6433. The Museum of Art is located in the Center for the Arts on Route 30 and is open Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, from noon to 5 p.m.

For more information regarding the exhibition and programming events, please contact Emmie Donadio, co-curator of "After Eden: Garden Varieties in Contemporary Art" and associate director of the Middlebury College Museum of Art, at 802-443-2240.

Program Schedule

MARCH

Saturday, March 14 (on display through May 31), from 8-11 p.m. Museum of Art, and Center for the Arts lobbies, Route 30.

A GARDEN PARTY ART EXHIBITION OPENING: "After Eden: Garden Varieties in Contemporary Art"

Music by ViperHouse, a nine-piece jazz funk fusion orchestra, and hors d'oeuvres.

Tuesday, March 17, at 7:30 p.m. Museum of Art/Center for the Arts, Route 30.

GALLERY TALK: "After Eden: Garden Varieties in Contemporary Art."

Suzanne Bocanegra and Emmie Donadio, co-curators. Preceded by a pre-performance dinner at Rehearsals Cafe at 6:00. p.m. Dinner reservations required. Contact Center for the Arts box office at 802-443-6433.

Tuesday, March 31, at 7:30 p.m. Room 304, Christian A. Johnson Memorial Building, off College St.

ARTIST SLIDE LECTURE: Paula Hayes, New York, conceptual artist and horticulturist included in "After Eden: Garden Varieties in Contemporary Art."

APRIL

Thursday, April 2, at 4:30 p.m. Museum of Art, Route 30.

POETRY READING: English Professors John Elder, Robert Pack, and John Wilders read some of their favorite poems about the garden. Reception to follow.

Friday, April 3, at 4 p.m. Lower Lobby, Center for the Arts, Route 30.

VIDEO: "Nature and Nature: Andy Goldsworthy" (17 minutes). Sculptor whose work is represented in "After Eden: Garden Varieties in Contemporary Art" exhibit. Refreshments served.

Thursday, April 9, at 4:30 p.m. Concert Hall, Center for the Arts, Route 30.

SLIDE LECTURE: "After Eden: Garden Varieties in Contemporary Art." Eleanor Heartney, art critic and contributing editor of Art in America. Reception to follow.

Wednesday, April 15, at 7:30 p.m. Room 304, Christian A. Johnson Memorial Building, off College Street.

ARTIST SLIDE LECTURE: Mike Glier, Williams College, painter included in "After Eden: Garden Varieties in Contemporary Art."

MAY

Friday, May 1 (Vermont Arbor Day), at 5 p.m. Location near Old Chapel to be determined, on Old Chapel Road off Route 30.

TREE PLANTING: A work from the Joseph Beuys "7000 Oaks" Project. Part of the exhibition "After Eden: Garden Varieties in Contemporary Art."

Thursday, May 7, at 4:30 p.m. Plaza of the Center for the Arts, on Route 30.

ZIGZAGJAZZ: Student vocal and instrumental jazz improvisation in the "Two-Way Mirror Curved Hedge Zig-Zag Labyrinth," 1996, by Dan Graham.

With the exception of dinner at Rehearsals Cafe at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17, all events are free and open to the public.

The Museum of Art is located in the Center for the Arts on Route 30, and is open Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, from noon to 5 p.m.

For more information regarding the exhibition and programming events, please contact Emmie Donadio, co-curator of "After Eden: Garden Varieties in Contemporary Art" and associate director of the Middlebury College Museum of Art, at 802-443-2240.