Client: Newport Art Museum
Location: Newport, USA
Completion date: 2007
Nancy Whipple Grinnell
In response to an invitation by Nancy Whipple Grinnell, Curator at the Newport Art Museum in Rhode Island, I produced Uncovered Grove – a site-specific installation that uses text on paper as a medium. This project was the second iteration in a series that recognizes the potency of the printed word. I have been using a cultural artifact, Encyclopaedia Britannica, as a material for many reasons that include its unique physical qualities, the meanings that it carries and to recognize its iconic status.
This commission provided an opportunity to consider the associations between the tree of life, defined as the patterns of relationships that link all earth's species and the tree of knowledge, defined as the connected branches of human thought realized in the form of writing and speaking. The leaves in this alternative stand of not quite natural trees have been reassembled from approximately 30,000 pages of discarded volumes. The visitor was encouraged to walk among the fallen pages to find a personal vantage point and perhaps something unexpected. In this contained space with one egress a landscape was presented. The viewer decided whether to cross the threshold. Through a process of altering perception we can be encouraged to challenge our assumptions about our surroundings.
When the Curator of Art and former Librarian proposed the exhibition I knew it was an ideal setting for an installation. A two hundred year old fern beech tree is visible from the west window and to the north sits the Redwood Athenaeum, the oldest lending library in America. I'm questioning the boundaries of what is seen; the act of observation changes what is observed. These volumes of knowledge in a particular format belong to a collective consciousness.
Projects in this series have included installations, sculpture and wall art for private and public venues: Branches Unbound at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, MI; Arboreal Anatomy at the Fuller Craft Museum, MA; Branches, at the entrance to SOFA, New York, NY. There have been works titled Restructured for Hubert Gallery, New York, NY and Rebound for BrownGrotta Arts in Wilton, Connecticut.