ST. LOUIS, MO.-
In the Fall of 2022, Laumeier Sculpture Park
will explore the beauty and power of trees as an alluring subject matter for artists through its exhibition Forest Through the Trees, on view August 27 December 11, 2022 in the Aronson Fine Arts Centers Whitaker Foundation Gallery and Laumeiers Outdoor Galleries. This group exhibition presents a selection of artists from St. Louis and around the world whose observations range from representation through landscape to conceptual experimentation where the tree is treated as both subject and object.
As a sculpture park focused on the conversation between art and nature, the works on view operate in harmony with and in reference to Laumeiers natural landscape, both organic and manicured. Rather than viewed as a backdrop, the tree as a symbol of nature is respected and revered. Each of the artists in the exhibition approach this philosophy with wildly different interpretations. Whether literally carved from a tree trunk, laser cut in miniature, abstracted through painting or recreated with computer data, the artwork celebrates and, in some cases, further complicates our relationship to nature.
Forest Through the Trees explores themes and topics from the tragedy of massive deforestation to the admiration of a trees individual power and magnificence. The exhibition will include sculpture, photography, video, drawings, and performance. It will also incorporate works from Laumeiers permanent collection.
The exhibition artists:
London-based artist Zadok Ben-David explores the relationship between humanity and the natural world, blending the miniature and the monumental with his hand carved, micro-scaled silhouetted tree branches.
Vienna-based painter Benjamin Butler uses trees, forests, and landscapes in his paintings, repeating this motif with varying levels of abstraction. Recognizing their pictorial properties, Butler employs the forest as a conceptual and visual device, coupled with his simple but unique paint applications.
For Los Angeles-based artist Charles Gaines, the image of the tree has been a prominent feature of his work since the mid-1970s. His Numbers and Trees series disputes equally the objective character of the trees represented and the subjective
natural and sometime aggressive material human actions that surround them in the
Berlin-based artist Lena Henke often relies on familiar forms as subject matter,
combining them with defined space within a given architecture to invert the inside/
outside relationship. Her series of wall sculptures are cast from the trees outside of
her studio. Stacked vertically, Henkes arboreal fragments resemble a trees trunk,
advancing her interest in the relationship between architecture and the natural
Irish born, New York-based artist Katie Holtens artistic oeuvre is devoted almost
entirely to trees. Holten developed a downloadable free font called Tree Alphabet,
where each letter is represented by a tree drawing. At Laumeier, Holten will create a
free waving flag featuring a text by St. Louis poet and writer Carl Phillips that has
been translated into the Tree Alphabet font.
Colombian artist Miler Lagos re-creates the trees concentric rings by unfolding,
stacking and layering thousands of newspaper pages to create the cross-section of
a tree and examine the relationship between business and nature, commodities and
New York-based artist Jason Middlebrook draws attention to the tree and its form
in his large paintings on planks of wood. In his work he combines colorful geometric
patterns with natural forms, balancing between what is artificial and what is natural.
St. Louis-based artist Andy Millner catalogues actual plants and trees by
meticulously recreating them digitally. In his work, he builds fantastical
environments comprised of individual drawings from his digital and photographic
archive of plants, flowers and trees to create monumental digital prints on paper.
Scottish artist Katie Paterson has created a one-hundred-year artwork titled Future
Library for the city of Oslo. In 2014, one thousand trees were planted in a
Norwegian forest, which will supply paper for a special anthology of books to be
printed in one hundred years time. Between now and then, one writer every year
will contribute a text to the anthology. Laumeier will exhibit Future Library
(certificate), 2014, an artwork that supports this project and also secures the owner
a copy of the anthology.
Berlin-based artist Julius von Bismarck explores the interplay between perception
and reality, building up a portfolio of work focusing on trees or forests where he
seeks to challenge us as viewers to contemplate how we perceive nature versus
how we experience it.
Local St. Louis artist Rachel Youn transforms materials and objects into kinetic
pieces that balance the absurd with the sometimes ironic beauty of manufactured
goods. Parade Paradis is a decorative, monumental prefab palm tree with a top that
twirls on a motor and gently sways in the wind. The piece teeters between the
humor of its context in a suburban Midwestern landscape and the grace and beauty
Connecting to Laumeiers 2022 focus on health and wellness, Forest Through the Trees
invites visitors to appreciate the important role trees play in green therapy, providing
clean water and food, and helping to improve the health of all flora and fauna.
This exhibition is curated by Laumeiers Curator Dana Turkovic. She states, Upon first
glance, the exhibition may look like a landscape show, or simply about an artists
interest in trees as a subject. However, my hope is that this grouping of artists will peel
away and reveal a more complex set of layers, associations, and conceptual
preoccupations with trees. This focus on trees through art highlights their beauty and
diversity but also brings to light their importance to our health and wellbeing. Spending
time in and amongst trees and immersing ourselves in forest spaces can improve our
mood and reduce daily stress.