Friday, August 21, 2009

Human Nature Political

posted by Free Press Houston @ 10:12 AM

by Dean Liscum

Whether or not the end is near, its close enough. Charity in the billions is doled out to the über-rich by their own underlings. The poor live and die without air conditioning or basic medical care. If the pundits won’t profess it, at least artists will paint the picture. The installation Human Nature Planted does not present itself as overtly political, but it plays out that way. Curated by June Woest and Claudio Franco of Urban Artists at the Nature Discovery Center of Bellaire, Planted is a group sculptural installation by twelve innovative Texas artists. The official theme of the show is to “explore the human handprint in the natural world and how it positively and negatively influences the environment,” but the show resonates with current socio-political-economic turmoil. Nathaniel Donnett’s Myke’s Clubhouse captures the crisis from the vantage point of the forgotten poor and vulnerable; Cornell West accusing Obama of neglecting those most in need. Merging fantasy with nightmare, Donnett constructed a tree house and foreclosed it, with a red sign and a foreclosure listing in the paper. June Woest’s Pharmacy Domesticus forms a field of bamboo-like columns out of plastic prescription bottles, makes a visually stunning side-effect of our fascination with better living through pharmaceuticals. Lucinda Cobley’s tree+cipher proposes a vibrant new taxonomy for nature that makes one cry out for a new political discourse. Amie Adelman’s untitled, Mari Omari’s Gifts and Orna Feinstein’s
Eco-librium enhance or alter the existing environment; binding, weaving, and clumping leaves, stems, branches, and grasses; regulating nature in quirky, unanticipated ways. Kathy Hall’s I say Poaceae, You say Poaceae introduces non-native grasses into the park and forces us to confront the unpredictable nature of complex systems.

Recessions depress but they can inspire innovation and reinvention, every tool becomes a weapon when held just right. Kathy Kelley’s The birth of destruction deconstructs automobile tires and fashions them into boulder-sized spheres that remind one of objects of play or meditation. Andis Applewhite’s Soul distills man-made and natural fragments to serve as objects for meditation. Jason Dean Moul’s Water, Seed, Pollen, Leaf hints at moving away from Christian salvation through salary and inserts customer designed stain glass windows in the intersections of the pecan tree branches. The trees etched on plexiglas in Keith Hollingworth’s Arboretum may serve as a memento mori for the park in anticipation of a coming environmental crisis. Michael Crowder’s frozen birds will have melted before this exhibit even ends, but you could find yourself, decades from now, peering at the two glass ones-- wondering how quickly the next ice age will come.


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