Penland Gallery presents wild and precious life, on display in the John & Robyn Horn Gallery through September 2. The exhibition features the work of three highly respected artists with sculptural works in steel, works on paper and photography.
Kim Cridler focuses on the fabrication of sculptural forms in metal, creating delicate compositions that explore our fragile relationship with the natural world. Her practice is inspired by the patterns of nature and the way objects can record and extend our lives. Her work argues for the pleasure found in beauty, and the power of material and form. Using a process that is accumulative and direct, and joining small parts together into a larger body, she works to create a sense of movement within still objects.
“Within this structured movement, there resides the potential for change,” says Cridler. “These works serve as a reminder of our place in the natural world; no matter how carefully we construct and manage our daily experiences, life will not leave us alone or untouched by change.”
For this exhibit, Brooklyn-based artist Nancy Blum works on paper. She renders bold and lush botanical landscapes which she describes as her intent to conjure the flower as an active, forceful agent, subverting a point of view that often places the ephemeral and organic as less powerful and of limited value.
“My large-scale works on paper, rendered in ink, colored pencil, gouache and graphite, portray a fantastic realm in which flowers own the space,” says Blum.
She uses a variety of 16th- and 17th-century botanical images, from Chinese plum blossoms to German botanicals, as starting points for each drawing. Rather than alluding to an actual landscape, she instead combines species of plants in the same drawing that would not customarily exist together in nature.
Photographer Lisa A. Frank shows images from her series Captive Splendor. In November 2020, Frank began photographing animals living in zoos and wildlife sanctuaries in the US. Her intention was to stage these animals within images of the Thorne Miniature Rooms that are on permanent exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago, to create updated natural history dioramas that juxtaposed the wild with the cultivated.
“The rooms become intimate performance settings waiting for a narrative to unspool,” says Frank.
The Thorne Miniature Rooms have been reimagined as a gallery of natural history dioramas, populated with digital taxidermy and newly anointed with contemporary discomfort.
Penland Gallery is located at 3135 Conley Ridge Road. Learn more at Penland.org/gallery.