A View Beyond the Trees featured solo projects by contemporary artists Joe Hamilton (Melbourne, Australia), Dawn Holder (Clarksville, Arkansas), and Stacy Lynn Waddell (Durham, North Carolina). The work of these artists was shown alongside a group of 19th-century American landscape paintings from the ZMA collection titled The Light of Distant Skies, researched and curated by Kennesaw State University faculty Dr. Daniel E. Sachs.
Dawn Holder’s floor sculptures evoked the lawns of suburbia. Thousands of individual porcelain blades of grass created the illusion of manicured yards, an icon of domestic mastery over nature. For A View Beyond the Trees, Holder created a site-responsive version of this series. In contrast to the traditional landscape paintings on display in the adjacent galleries, Holder’s work addressed the emergence of a 20th-century American relationship to the land, one that comes at a high ecological cost.
Joe Hamilton’s work introduced a digital, composite, and aerial approach to considering landscape and geography. He utilizes technology and found imagery to create intricately collaged compositions in video, photography, and interactive web-based works. His work addressed technology as a medium for consuming images of nature while emphasizing how that same technology is at odds with the environment.
In 2014, Hamilton visited the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. He recorded visual material and collected found imagery of the destinations. Using this collection as his palette, he meticulously layered, blended and composed the works on view – a combination of his own recorded experience and a sample from the cloud. Hamilton's work also draws inspiration and visual elements from traditional landscape painting and painterly processes. Throughout art history landscapes have often been interpreted as a metaphor for or a meditation on the human condition. In the case of Hamilton’s work, the defining characteristic is a condition of increasingly networked connectivity.
Stacy Lynn Waddell’s work interrogated the historical significance of landscapes as sites of violence, colonial constructs, and a subject of artistic study. Using formal cues and symbolic materials, her work asserted the landscape as a contextualizing backdrop to events, influencing and informing their interpretation. Her paintings simultaneously explored the way an event can link a particular landscape to a person or story, and the ability of that landscape to serve as a memorial.
For A View Beyond the Trees, Waddell produced an entirely new body of work depicting the sites, made familiar through news coverage, where police have killed African-American boys and men. Waddell’s landscapes asked the viewer to consider who is presented as an actor or agent within a particular landscape and, in turn, who is rendered a product of that landscape and incorporated into the frame. By presenting these emotionally and politically charged landscapes, she made a powerful comment on the ideological lineage of representations of landscape in art.
An exhibition within the exhibition, The Light of Distant Skies explored two of the 19th-century American public’s favorite subjects for paintings: mountains and the seacoast. Prior to and just after the American Revolution, portraiture was the primary form of artistic expression in the United States. However, this emphasis shifted to include landscape painting in the early 1800’s. The symbolism inherent in cultivated pockets of land amidst the wilderness mirrored the goals of a young nation that was expanding to the west, and thus the paintings also supported political and social agendas of the time such as the idea of Manifest Destiny, the notion that America was destined to stretch across the continent, from the East coast to the West.
Supplementing the exhibition, was an educational presentation illustrating the life of a painting, from craft to conservation. This display incorporated a series of panels painted by Dr. Sachs that demonstrated a landscape painting in progressing stages of completion, as well as a presentation of materials and techniques used in the preservation and conservation of paintings.
Also featured was a project by curatorial intern Madeline Beck titled #ZMABeyondtheTrees. Using Instagram, the Zuckerman Museum of Art presented photographic documentation of the changing landscape on a public platform. Two different hashtag feeds juxtaposed images of a rapidly gentrifying metro Atlanta area, alongside spaces of dilapidation, neglect, and possibility.
Joe Hamilton (born 1982, Tasmania) makes use of technology and found material to create intricate and complex compositions online, offline and in-between. His recent work questions our established notions of the natural environment within a society that is becoming increasingly networked. Hamilton holds a BFA from the University of Tasmania and an MA from RMIT in Melbourne. His work has been shown to great extent internationally with recent group exhibitions at The Moving Museum Istanbul, The Austrian Film Museum, Kunsthalle Düsseldorf and The New Museum in New York.
Dawn Holder (born 1976, Boston, Massachusetts) is a sculptor and installation artist who works in porcelain and various other media. As Assistant Professor of Art at the University of the Ozarks, she currently teaches ceramics, sculpture, and art history. Prior to moving to Arkansas, she was a resident at Red Lodge Clay Center in Montana and Adjunct Faculty/Ceramics Technician at The University of Hartford in Connecticut. Holder’s work has been shown throughout the country, including solo exhibitions at Arkansas Tech University, the University of the Ozarks, MotherDog Studios in Houston, and the Hartford Public Library. Holder has recently participated in several group exhibitions and panel discussions as a member of Show and Tell Art Collective. This summer, Holder’s work will be included in Organic Matters- Women to Watch 2015 at the National Museum for Women in the Arts in Washington, DC. Holder also serves as the Coordinator of Projects Space, a performative and installation-based exhibition of experimental ceramics at the annual National Council on Education for the Ceramics Arts (NCECA) conference. She received an MFA in Ceramics from the Rhode Island School of Design and a BFA in Ceramics from the University of Georgia.
Stacy Lynn Waddell (born 1966, Washington, D.C.) creates works that structure sites of intersection between both real and imagined aspects of history and culture. After earning her MFA from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2007, her work has been recognized and exhibited nationally. Waddell has participated in exhibitions at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston Salem, NC, the John Hope Franklin Center, Franklin Humanities Institute and the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University in Durham, NC, the Weatherspoon Art Museum at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro in Greensboro, NC, The North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, NC, The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, PA, Project Row Houses in Houston, TX, The Studio Museum in Harlem in New York, On Stellar Rays in New York and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston among other venues. Her work is included in several public and private collections that include The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University (Durham, NC), the Weatherspoon Art Museum at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (Greensboro, NC), The North Carolina Museum of Art (Raleigh, NC), The Gibbes Museum of Art (Charleston, SC) and The Studio Museum in Harlem (New York). Waddell was named one of The New Superstars of Southern Art in Oxford American Magazine’s 2012 100 Under 100 List, is a 2010 recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant and a 2012 recipient of an Art Matters Grant. She currently resides in Chapel Hill, NC.
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