Wilderness Acts 2016
at Axle Contemporary and The Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve
This pair of exhibitions explores the relationship between art and nature, creates awareness of our local natural resources, and promotes wetland and ecological conservation. Ten artists have created ephemeral sculptural artworks using natural materials in sites in the Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve in La Cienega, south of Santa Fe. The artists also present related small works in the Axle Contemporary Mobile Gallery. This is the second iteration of the Wilderness Acts Biennial, which began in 2014 in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act of 1964 which protected vast wilderness areas across the United States. Works in this exhibition include a garment woven from local grasses emerging from the living plants, an artwork based on motion-triggered wildlife photographs, and ephemeral unfired clay books which melt back into the land from which they were born.Participating Artists: Anne Cooper, Christie Green, Michelle Goodman, Nicasio Romero, Matthew Chase-Daniel, Erika Wanenmacher, Chrissie Orr & Joel Glanzberg, Joshua Willis, Chris Collins, and Sondra Goodwin.
The Santa Fe Botanical Garden's Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve is a 35-acre nature preserve and home to a rare natural cienega (marsh), and hosts a bountiful diversity of plants and wildlife.
DIRECTIONS: The preserve is located on the I-25 West Frontage Road south of Santa Fe. From I-25 take Exit 271 for “La Cienega” and turn right onto West Frontage Road heading north. The parking lot entrance is 1½ miles north after turning onto West Frontage Road. From New Mexico State Road 599 (NM-599), turn south onto West Frontage Road heading toward the Downs at Santa Fe Race Track. The parking lot entrance is two miles south of the Downs at Santa Fe Race Track.
Chase-Daniel has constructed an ephemeral doorway from Cottonwood leaves, hanging in the air, framing the main path at the Wetlands. He brings together architectural ideas of doorways and artworld ideas of picture frames. The work frames the landscape and invites us through while also being made of the landscape that we are experiencing.
Disjoint consists of three fallen trees which were found within the Preserve. These trees which had been cut into several sections have been arranged within eroded paths which slope down into the wetland ecosystem. The ends of each cut section have been painted with whitewash, which refers to the legacy of resource consumption and colonial exploitation which usually remains hidden from our view. These segmented trees serve as memorials to the ecosystem which slowly regenerates from the erosion of historical disruption.
Grass book i-ix (anitya series)
The Sanskrit word ‘Anitya’ means ‘impermanence’. Made from unfired local clay and paper made of native grasses the nine grass books will dissolve back into the earth over time leaving only a red stain.
Many of us look to the great old trees and native plants and the ponds for comfort. We are living in dire times. Severe weather events, terrorist violence, extinction of plants and animals, and unrest in our society are heartbreaking realities.
May we remember that there is in nature
something beautifully complex beyond us
and may we be humbled and relieved
of our extreme self-centeredness.
I Wear the Earth
As if growing out of the ground, I Wear the Earth is a garment made from the sedge of the meadow where it stands. Everything we use, consume and wear comes from the earth, be it cotton or polyester. In the process of taking what we need we take more than we give. We are wearing out our earthly garden.
Green proposes that, as a human, she herself may be considered a beneficial or nuisance “Alien Invasive” species. We justify our actions of caring for or killing many species in the name of stewardship, conservation, preservation, ritual, tradition, reverence or recreation. We are also judged, honored or criticized for our actions towards plants and animals from those with opposing values and practices. Russian Olive trees and coyotes may be considered nuisance species, or “Alien Invasives” although they have numerous beneficial attributes. Similarly, rabbits may be considered pests, or adorable, soft little bunnies. These are species common to the invasive vs beneficial debate. As are we humans.
Chrissie Orr & Joel Glanzberg
Love Letters to a Tree
“If you do not love me I shall not be loved. If I do not love you I shall not love”. -Samuel Beckett
Our human connection to trees is inherent… we love to climb up their rough trunks and perch in their boughs, we silently watch the magic of their leaves turning in the Autumn and listen to the rustle as the wind passes through their vast branches. We breathe their oxygen and they breathe our carbon dioxide. The cottonwood, Populus fremontii, or Alamo Cottonwood in this area hold an ancient wisdom, they have seen history move and shift through their roots and they will share this knowledge if only we take the time to listen. Without them we lose our sense of time and place. Let us take time with this tree, sit with it, close your eyes, open your heart and feel into a sacred love for this magnificent being. Chrissie and Joel have been writing love letters to one particular cottonwood in the preserve and invite you to do the same.
Nido del Otoño (Autumn Nest)
“I have always wanted to build a nest. It incorporates the use of natural materials. I am using green and dry willow harvested from my field on the Pecos River in El Ancon. Nature is my guide. My basic philosophy is to stay away from the stores .. Everything I need is all around us. Feliz Otoño!”
What Time Travel Feels Like, Sometimes #1
During the month of September, Wanenmacher moved her life-sized figure made of cottowood twigs around the preserve, and captured images of wildlife interacting with the figure using a motion-activated digital trail camera. The figure will continue her journey around the Preserve in October and photos from September will be displayed in the gallery.
An 8’x12’ relief in the shape of a human footprint. A reference to “Bigfoot,” yet the footprint is excessively oversized to suggest that the human footprint has far greater impact than our furry and elusive friend, Bigfoot. The relief will be a place where seed and water will naturally settle. Over time, the relief will become a place for native shrubs and herbaceous plants to grow.
Exhibition at the Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve
Exhibition in the Axle Contemporary Mobile Gallery
Natural shelter (dissembling).jpeg