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GALLERY HOURS (during exhibitions)
Monday – Saturday, 11am – 4pm
Open until 7pm on Thursdays
EDU BLOG

Audubon and the Lowcountry

Wed Sep 19, 2018
Famed ornithologist John James Audubon developed a peculiar love of nature and drawing at an early age, an interest that melded art with natural science and proved integral to the development of both fields in the United States. Raised in Nantes, France, Audubon moved to America in 1803 to manage Mill Grove, his father’s plantation near Philadelphia. This was the first of many residencies across the United States—from Kentucky to Louisiana to Ohio—where Audubon brought his drawing practice and goal of eventually publishing a compendium of all of the birds of North America.[2] In 1831, Audubon took what would be a decades-long project, and his magnum opus, to Charleston.
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In his shadowbox Wood Duck (Dance for Nola), 2017, Hitnes focuses on the condition of the bird’s environment and how it has changed from John James Audubon’s era—the early 19th century. In John James Audubon’s Summer or Wood Duck, three birds are depicted nestled in tree branches while a fourth flies in from the left-hand side. The birds are coupled together and noticeably interact with each other and their environment. While Hitnes depicts the same species in his shadowbox paintings, his environment is an antithesis of Audubon’s.
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The Image Hunter: On the Trail of John James Audubon is currently being exhibited at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art. This striking exhibition features the work by the Italian artist Hitnes, who retraced Audubon’s travels in the United States, while sketching and painting what he saw along the way. John James Audubon was an American ornithologist, naturalist, and painter. He was notable for his extensive studies documenting all types of American birds and for his detailed illustrations that depicted the birds in their natural habitats during the early nineteenth century. Almost two-hundred years later, Hitnes commenced a three-month road-trip, retracing twenty of the same cities Audubon had traveled through, including Charleston, SC! Along his route Hitnes created an updated visual documentation of the many birds Audubon had originally painted. The piece that I am most drawn to in Hitnes’s collection is Wild Turkey (Game), 2017. This image is done primarily with watercolors and acrylic paint on paper with found objects in a shadowbox. This medium variation is the most apparent difference between Hitnes and Audubon’s work. The multi-dimensional style of art takes a modern twist on Audubon’s early paintings. In comparison, the color palette used in both images is similar, ranging from deep reds to rich emerald hues. The position of the birds in both images differ - Audubon painted his turkey with its feathers down, whereas, Hitnes painted his turkey with its feathers fanned out.
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The Halsey Institute for Contemporary Art is a home to a diverse group of staff members who work hard behind-the-scenes to ensure that visitors have a memorable cultural experience. The job of a preparator, or art handler, is primarily taking care of installation and deinstallation of artwork on display in the gallery. At the Halsey, this role is taken up by Andrew King. King’s job at the Halsey is very important, especially for exhibitions like the one up now, The Carrion Cheer, A Faunistic Tragedy by German artist duo Matthias Böhler & Christian Orendt. Interested in all the work that went into this captivating installation, I was able to interview Andrew and learn a little bit more about exactly what he does.
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The Earth has already witnessed five mass extinctions and is about to experience one more. Our planet is now in the midst of its sixth mass extinction of plants and animals—which is currently the worst series of species extinctions since the loss of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Scientists estimate that we are now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the background rate, with literally dozens going extinct every day. Opposed to past mass extinctions, caused by natural events like asteroid strikes, volcanic eruptions, and natural climate shifts, the current crisis is almost utterly caused by us—humans. Böhler and Orendt’s exhibition, The Carrion Cheer, A Faunistic Tragedy, evokes viewers to contemplate their own relationships with the environment, as well as their moral responsibilities for conservation relating to the life of animals. This multi-sensory installation features apparitions of extinct animals such as the Pig-footed Bandicoot and the Carolina Parakeet—who emerge in chorus to sing a song of forgiveness to humans for causing their ultimate extinction. Böhler & Orendt’s project confronts humanity’s desire for exponential growth.
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Resonance has become difficult to produce in the increasingly de-sensitized 21st century. Media and news headlines tell the stories of statistics instead of lives. We interact with numbers and not people, and it is hard to feel resonance to an intangible figure, which due to its impersonal nature fails to create a true emotive response. Without this emotive response, it becomes hard to forge a sense of understanding, responsibility, and awareness of the world around us. Böhler and Orendt’s The Carrion Cheer, A Faunistic Tragedy juxtaposes child-like novelty with their characteristic dark humor to striking effect. Their theatrical approach to the issue of animal extinction is both moving and educative, creating a profound impact on its viewers.
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Nine Animals that Exemplify

Tue May 29, 2018
Opposed to turning a blind eye to the impact that mankind leaves on the environment, The Carrion Cheer, A Faunistic Tragedy embraces the attention that it receives. Forcing the viewer to fully immerse themselves into the exhibit, through the usage of tents and sounds, a strong message regarding extinction is given. Theatrical characteristics incorporated in the work aid in provoking thought for its viewers on a broader sensory spectrum. The Carrion Cheer is not only an art installation but a statement that acknowledges how industrialization is detrimental to the existence of various species. Artists, Böhler and Orendt, chose nine animals to exemplify the understated harms caused by humans; animals chosen went extinct in different eras, however, humans remained a constant.  
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This month, interns at the Halsey Institute will be interviewing artists in Young Contemporaries. This series features students interviewing their peers, investigating aspects behind some of the works in the Young Contemporaries 2018 exhibition. In this post, Maddie Stauss interviews artist Nori Page.
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This month, interns at the Halsey Institute will be interviewing artists in Young Contemporaries. This series features students interviewing their peers, investigating aspects behind some of the works in the Young Contemporaries 2018 exhibition. In this post, María Carrillo-Marquina interviews artist Timothy Hunter.
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This month, interns at the Halsey Institute will be interviewing artists in Young Contemporaries. This series features students interviewing their peers, investigating aspects behind some of the works in the Young Contemporaries 2018 exhibition. In this post, Chloe Gillespie interviews artist Hope Morgan.
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Free For All
GALLERY HOURS (during exhibitions)
Monday – Saturday, 11am – 4pm
Open until 7pm on Thursdays
843.953.4422


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