Drawings from the Department of Tropical Research Field Expeditions
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 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, 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 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; Jeong 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.
Sue 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 ddress 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 Penalba 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.