COMMUNITY ART IN THE POST-DISASTER LANDSCAPES OF TODAY

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Site #16: "Emerge" Beth Dary: City Park, Mid-City

(Click on photos to enlarge.)

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"This work is an environmental installation of a variety of cast paper “pods” into the landscape of a low-lying “wet” spot on the grounds of New Orleans’ City Park. “Emerge” is my attempt to seed something of potential growth for a landscape that was flooded and badly damaged during Hurricane Katrina. I have also chosen the park site as it holds some of my first memories of times spent exploring this city’s undeniable beauty with my family when we moved to New Orleans.

These pods, many of them unfinished fragments, are part of an earlier body of work that was interrupted by the storm. The use of elements of a partially completed work connotes an interruption and cutting off of a work in progress, much the way so many lives were caught in a particular moment at the time of the storm and dropped elsewhere out of their usual and intended context. It is likely that, for a casual passerby, the distinction between “artistic” and “natural” phenomenon will blur -- the sculptural elements of the piece, made of cast plant fibers and inspired by objects found in nature like a gourd or seed pod, are placed in a way that could be a part of the life cycle of the plants in the area.

The decision to place them back into the environment was both a way to complete a work in a different way than originally intended and a metaphor for “letting go.” It is also hoped that this work, all composed of organic materials, will be transformed in the process, whether it is appropriated by birds or insects for nesting materials, absorbed back into the earth with the ebb and flow of the watery area where they have been placed, or perhaps even collected as a curiosity by a visitor to the park." Beth Dary

6 comments:

all night ninos said...

It is nice to wonder off into the swamp isnt it. I like your idea of the unfinised and changed treasures . Any thoughts on materials other than plant fibers? Check out Andy Goldsworthy, one of my favorite installation artists of our time.

all night ninos said...

Ok I tried to post but I guess it didnt go through. Any way I said that it was always nice wandering off into the wild scapes, even if in a city. I liked your thoughts on transforming your original project into smething new and different. As far as your materials go; have you ever given thought to anything other than cast and bleached white plant fibers. I immediately thought of one of my favorite artist Andy Goldsworthy. An installation artist that only deals with the found natural object. Anyway good stuff! Im drawn to this. Slade

Beth Dary said...

Thank you for your thoughts regarding this installation. I also appreciate Andy Goldsworthy’s work very much. Part of the focus of this body of work was the interaction/interrelationships between organic forms and manufactured materials. On other pieces in the “pod” series I have used a variety of techniques to finish the cast pieces, introducing color with pigment and rusted steel particles. In my other work I have used a variety materials and media, including painting in egg tempera & encaustic and sculpture using steel wire, fabric, pins, cement and rubber. Thanks again for your interest in the work!

courtney said...

I can imagine a child picking one up and bringing it to a parent, who assumes the storm waters gave birth to some mutant shelf mushroom, and telling the child to go put it back...they are lovely regenerative forms.

Anonymous said...

Lovely, simply lovely!

Thanks


RV

ARTinACTION said...

I was out at this site recently and it's becoming incredibly primordial, what with the rains and growth. Bees were feeding off of thistles that are in full bloom and the lagoon was dense with water fowl. I keep thinking of how the botanist at A Studio In The Woods said that in his field, this Spring is called "the First Spring", post-Katrina - that last year's Spring was a flushing of toxins, this year's Spring is "true". And the folks out at A Studio In The Woods say that in all their years here they've never seen a Spring like this. Which brings me to a child finding these pods and that imagined narrative of them being "organic", a new form of life that is a product of our "First Spring".