Independent Curators International supports the work of curators to help create stronger art communities through experimentation, collaboration, and international engagement.

Independent Curators International supports the work of curators to help create stronger art communities through experimentation, collaboration, and international engagement.

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UnNaturally

Curated by Mary-Kay Lombino

UnNaturally features works by fifteen artists who employ artificial materials to create simulations of nature, exploring the ways in which the boundaries between nature and culture are sometimes blurred, and raising provocative questions about our mediated environment. These works play on our nostalgia for an idealized pre-industrial past in which man and nature coexisted harmoniously in an unspoiled landscape, the same nostalgia that has given rise to constructed environments in malls, zoos, and other themed “entertainment destinations” where nature is tamed and packaged for consumer use.

Through an art of studied verisimilitude, impressive craftsmanship, and occasional deadpan use of irony, the artists presented here suggest that the natural world can be reproduced with man-made materials just like any other mass-produced commercial product. Gregory Crewdson photographs his own meticulously constructed scenes that imitate natural settings, challenging viewers to question the notion of “reality.” Steel, epoxy, plaster, polymer, and other “unnatural” materials are transformed into surrogates for nature by such sculptors
 as Jason Middlebrook, Roxy Paine, and Michelle Segre, making us ask whether such “new-and-improved” stand-ins outweigh the benefits of
the unmediated experience of nature. Other sculptors such as Jacci Den Hartog, Keith Edmier, Michael Pierzynski, and Alyson Shotz blatantly reveal contemporary nature’s artificiality by borrowing from popular culture and theme-park kitsch. A sound piece by Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle imitates the soothing recorded sounds of nature piped into shopping malls and played at home for relaxation. Several of the artists are from Southern California, imparting a Hollywood sensibility to a theme that has occupied many artists in the past several years.

Touring locations
H&R Block Artspace at the Kansas City Art Institute
Sep 20, 2003 – Oct 29, 2003
F. Donald Kenney Museum, The Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts, St. Bonaventure University
Feb 3, 2004 – Mar 30, 2004
Copia: The American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts
Apr 20, 2004 – Aug 16, 2004
Fisher Gallery, University of Southern California
Nov 21, 2003 – Jan 17, 2004
Contemporary Art Museum, University of South Florida
Jan 18, 2003 – Mar 15, 2003
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