Drawings from the Department of Tropical Research Field Expeditions
Read about this exhibition in The New York Times' Science section here.
This exhibition brings to light for the first time an archive of images that illustrate the formation of our modern definition of nature. William Beebe (1877–1962) was one of America's greatest popularizers of ecological thinking and biological science. Beebe literally took the lab into the jungle, rather than the jungle to the lab. The Department of Tropical Research was pioneering in that, under Beebe’s direction, women were hired as lead scientists and field artists. Artist Isabel Cooper, joining in 1919, publicly relished her opportunity to travel through the jungles of Guyana juggling a “vivid serpent or tapestried lizard in one hand, and the best grade of Japanese paintbrush in the other.” The structure of The Drawing Center’s exhibition will mirror the two salient stages of the Department of Tropical Research's investigations: jungle field station work and floating laboratories for marine biology —revealing that artists and scientists worked closely and productively in the near past and that scientists once understood art as a valuable tool for promoting ecological thinking to a broad public. For the exhibition at The Drawing Center, Mark Dion will construct two installations which take as their inspiration images of the interiors of the DTR field stations. While one of the installations will develop the space of the jungle laboratories, the other will look to the oceanographic workshops. Numerous images in the WCS archive depict the work situations and interior conditions in both the tropical forest field stations and the floating labs of the research vessels.
Curated by Mark Dion, Katherine McLeod, and Madeleine Thompson
Exploratory Works: Drawings from the Department of Tropical Research Field Expeditions Exploratory Works: Drawings from the Department of Tropical Research Field Expeditions is made possible by the support of Fiona and Eric Rudin, Jean-Christophe Castelli and Lisa Silver, Judith Levinson Oppenheimer and John Oppenheimer, Anthony and Judy Evnin, Jerome L. and Ellen Stern, Ruth and Bill Ehrlich, Jennifer Levine and Jeff Aeder, and the Martin and Rebecca Eisenberg Foundation.
Additional support received by Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Special thanks to Canson Fine Art Papers since 1557, a proud sponsor of The Drawing Center.
Image: Chiasmodon niger Stomach Contents, Else Bostelmann Bermuda 1931. Watercolor on paper, 11 x 14 inches (27.9 x 35.6 cm). Else Bostelmann © Wildlife Conservation Society.
Open Sessions 10
Marginalia: Open Sessions 10 declares our present geo-political and ideological constructs to be permeable and malleable. The artists in this exhibition view borders and barriers as material through which to build new avenues of both trespass and solidarity. Marginalia features Daniel Bejar, Ana Peñalba, Sue Jeong Ka, Carolyn Lambert, Srinivas Mangipudi, Irini Miga, and Rodrigo Valenzuela.
Drawing is a mode of inquiry throughout the exhibition Valenzuela visualizes the American dream in deserted landscapes; Bejar traverses communities tenuously linked through political maneuvering; Peñalba sketches visionary architecture from the waste of the present; Ka explores the aesthetics of deportation; Miga archives tender and almost unnoticeable gestures; Lambert finds legible marks deep in Arctic ice; and Mangipudi creates notebooks inviting strangers to add their marginalia.
Curated by Lisa Sigal and Nova Benway
Daniel Bejar’s Re-districting is a project that illuminates gerrymandered Congressional and State Senate districts through site-specific walks with a GPS device, tracking the artist’s walk and his body as a drawing instrument. Bejar traced the borders of New York Senate District 20 during a 12 hour and 32.04 mile journey, redrawing of New York State District 20 to reveal the absurdity of its shape.
Sue Jeong Ka takes an interventionist approach to art and law in the US governmental apparatus; her work operates within the framework of institutional and postcolonial critiques. Race and immigrant issues in the United States inform her most recent and ongoing project, ID Shop.
Carolyn Lambert uses video and installation to address issues of place, territory, and the relationships that humans have with their environments. The Solastalgia Cycle, an ongoing body of work, takes climate change and extinction as a premise for considering the affective experience of living in the present.
Srinivas Mangipudi uses drawing as a mechanism for cognitive learning and as a dialogue between thought and action, along with interdisciplinary mediums involving visualization, sound, social interactions and computer programming.
Irini Miga is a visual artist based in New York City. Her installations investigate the fragmentary nature of memory and its relationship to actual objects in order to manipulate the understanding of our physical spaces. By combining sculpture with painterly qualities, her work points to shifting relationships between representation, abstraction and materiality.
Ana Peñalba is an architect. She investigates the intangible forms of the city. Her "buildings" both distort and clarify the limits between reality and fiction. Her architecture is made of the sounds, images, objects, and forms of the present, which remind us of the past while creating an architectural fiction for our future.
Rodrigo Valenzuela constructs narratives, scenes, and stories that point to the tensions found between the individual and communities. In his work, autobiographical threads inform larger universal fields of experience. His work serves as an expressive and intimate point of contact between broader realms of subjectivity and political contingency.
As part of its on-going stairwell project, The Drawing Center has commissioned American artist Gary Simmons to create a site-specific wall drawing in the lobby stairwell. Simmons’ installation will be the second in the series following Abdelkader Benchamma’s Representation of Dark Matter (April 2015–August 2016).
Mining the iconography of American popular culture, Gary Simmons’s work addresses personal and collective experiences of race and class. He is best known for his “erasure drawings,” which he began working on in the late 1980s in an abandoned school in New York City that contained an abundance of blackboards. Using white chalk on slate-painted panels or walls, Simmons blurred the drawings with his hands resulting in hazy but persistent images that evoke faded memories or classrooms at the end of the school day. For The Drawing Center, Simmons created a text-based work consisting of names of African American actors and actresses from the early days of silent film. The artist describes the installation, whose format recalls the scrolling of closing film credits frozen in mid-motion, as invoking “the memories of actors that have been blurred in the history of Hollywood film . . . a kind of silence in both voice and visibility.”
Curated by Claire Gilman, Senior Curator
Gary Simmons: Ghost Reels is made possible by the support of Jeffrey A. Hirsch and Alyssa Fanelli.
Special thanks to Metro Pictures.
Image: Gary Simmons, Ghost Reels, 2016. Mixed media, Site-specific installation. Installation at The Drawing Center, New York, 2016. Photograph by Martin Parsekian.
Jackie Ferrara: Lines consists of eight wall drawings, each anchored by imagined architecture or architectural elements along with lists of film titles rendered in Morse code. The Morse code acts as a foundation or band, interrupting the drawn architecture or adding another layer over the entire surface. The underlying theme of the individual drawings is reflected both in the architectural element or shape dominating the drawing as well as by the Morse code text, which consists of curated lists of films Ferrara began compiling in 1993 that reflect her life-long passion for film. Vampire Towers, for example, depicts nine abstract, dark towers that emerge out of a foundation of vampire film titles veiled in Morse code. This commission reflects the ongoing evolution of Ferrara’s work, incorporating elements of the established language of her sculpture and public art works and bringing them to the walls of The Drawing Center.
Curated by Olga Valle Tetkowski, Exhibition Manager
Jackie Ferrara: Lines is made possible by The Drawing Center’s Exhibition Fund members. Special thanks to Joyce Pomeroy Schwartz.
Photo: Installation View, Lab Corridor. 2016. Photo by Martin Parsekian.
Read Lines by Jackie Ferrara