The Halsey Institute of the College of Charleston in collaboration with the Van Every/Smith Galleries at Davidson College, are partnering with UNC-Charlotte,Clemson Architecture Center – Charleston Program,Winthrop University Galleries, McColl Center for Visual Art, and the Sumter Gallery of Art for an innovative and experimental exhibition entitled Force of Nature. Part one of this collaborative exhibition is scheduled for the fall of 2006 and includes ten artists from Japan who will be in residence with these institutions for approximately six weeks prior to the opening receptions in mid-October. Each artist will address the theme utilizing locally available natural materials (salt, wood, dirt, plant-life, etc.) or natural elements and processes (wind, fire, water, decay, evaporation, erosion, etc.) in a temporary installation. This exhibition explores the relationship between humans and nature through the minds and hands of these contemporary artists. Collectively, this exhibition poses the question- are we a part of, or apart from nature? This exhibition is intended to provoke a dialogue and discussion with members of each host community while bringing the work of these young artists to the attention of audiences who would have few opportunities to view contemporary Japanese art.
Part two of the project will be a capstone exhibition at Sumter Gallery of Art in Sumter, South Carolina coinciding with the Spoleto Festival 2007, in Charleston. This exhibition will consist of documentation of each artists process as well as product by photographer Mitchell Kearney, along with maquettes and working drawings of the artists’ projects, as well as any artwork that is left after the exhibition in the fall is complete. Overall, this exhibition will provide an opportunity for the public to see the entire scope of the project in one location.
Earth and environmental art emerged in the 1960’s and ‘70’s as a radical departure from the concept of representing nature through a painting or other work, to artists actually intervening with nature itself. Artists such as Michael Heizer, Nancy Holt, Robert Smithson, and Richard Long, among many others, took their work out into nature and began a movement that has captured the enthusiasm of many adherents in the international art world today. This impulse seems to be particularly ardent in the country of Japan. Japan has played host to several international art exhibitions exploring the fertile terrain of art and nature. As an example, the Takihata Art Walking project invites artists working with natural materials to come and live in a temple as they create an outdoor sculpture that becomes a part of an Art Walking tour. The traveling exhibition A Primal Spirit: Ten Contemporary Japanese Sculptors, organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, drew attention to the aesthetic link between nature and art in Japan, and the productive effect this relationship has on contemporary Japanese artists.
Co-curators Mark Sloan and Brad Thomas traveled to Japan in the fall of 2003 with the purpose of identifying artists whose work fit their criteria for Force of Nature, especially artists whose work represented a sustained engagement with the human/nature dialectic. Utilizing a curatorial network of Japanese curators, gallerists, and academics, Sloan and Thomas were able to gain access to some of the most original and provocative artists living in Japan today. The ten selected artists were chosen as much for their philosophical approach to art and nature as for their previous work.