The art gallery’s “cultivated space” explores the connection between man and nature
In an incredible display of creativity, talent and passion, twelve artists have contributed earth-themed works to create Rowan Art Gallery’s new exhibition, ‘Cultivated Space’.
The exhibition was co-curated by local artist Syd Carpenter, local curator Marsha Moss and Rowan Art Gallery curator Mary Salvante. It featured works by Mi-Kyoung Lee, Anonda Bell, Fritz Dietel, Michelle Marcuse, Darla Jackson, Steven Donagen, Linda Brenner, Rachel Eng, Joanna Platt, Henry Bermudez, Martha Jackson Jarvis, and Sana Musasama.
The show was created in conjunction with Philadelphia Sculptors, a non-profit organization focused on providing resources and attention to local artists. As the “cultivated space” contains the talents of so many different artists, there is a variety of different works on display.
The materials used ranged from cut paper to woven cotton threads to zip ties. Each piece showcases the unique strengths of individual artists and their contrasting approaches to the theme.
For one artist, the earth theme focused on the beauty of the spring season in “Intangible Spring.”
“[Spring] is an intangible thing… that thing we take for granted,” said Steven Donegan, creator of the tapestry-like piece. “Here we’re spinning on this rock in space and we have all of that and it’s so hard for people to appreciate it. I think the work that we do as artists is trying to maintain a connection with the people so they can reflect on how we belong in all of this.
Mi-Kyoung Lee uses unusual materials such as twist ties and zip ties to create a naturalistic form. It is his way of commenting on the relationship between nature and consumption that is deeply rooted in today’s society.
For Linda Brenner, the theme of the earth focuses on her connection to it through her eight tree-inspired artworks, all of which use real trees that have come down to Philadelphia.
“Most of my work is about where the wood came from or what was happening when that tree fell,” Brenner said. “The loss of a tree is a very emotional thing for most people. I have had this experience…it creates an attachment to something that was important in your environment and then you have to experience that loss.
Another piece includes a reimagining of the “Snow White” fairy tale and the idea of what would happen if no true love came to break the spell. It features several woodland creatures staring at the bunny who gets stuck in his bed.
In “HAPPILY EVER AFTER (the ringing in your ears)”, Darla Jackson focuses on the reality that no one will be there to magically save us and know when it’s good to ask for help.
The artists also shared their tips for budding creatives:
“It’s hard at first… Just put that voice aside, which is easier said than done, and watch… work and watch and show off,” said Michelle Marcuse, creator of the sculpture. card titled “The Remaining Rumors Live Here.” “I will also say, be authentic, which is hard because the internet is coming right into your house… If you’re watching stuff, make sure [whatever you make] is influenced by yours [vision].”
“Keep your curiosity. Always be curious about the world around you,” said Anonda Bell, creator of the mixed media mural titled “Neither You Shall Touch It.” “Get used to the rejection and don’t take it personally…and keep going. Do not abandon.
“Keep doing what you are doing. Just keep creating your vision and keep nurturing it,” said Joanna Platt, creator of the cement piece and video display titled “Eden.” “Sometimes it takes a long time…sometimes longer than expected to truly realize your vision and be able to do what you want to do…just be patient with yourself… [and] remember that your artistic career is a long, long road.
The works of these and other artists are pieces of the larger exhibition that have their own role to play in examining the theme of earth. Overall, the exhibit evokes a sense of peace and connection. This is the result of a successful attempt by gallery curators to center this semester’s program of exhibitions on the nature of the tranquility offered during the pandemic.
The culmination of all the work of unique artists brought together to examine the beauty of the earth and our connection to it is an exhibition well worth seeing. “Cultivated Space” will be on display at 301 High Street Art Gallery until July 16.
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