Portals and Passageways
A Cape Cod Environmental Art and Sculpture Exhibition
June 29 – September 7, 2014
Artist reception: June 29, 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
This exhibition inaugurates Highfield Hall & Gardens’ outdoor environmental sculpture initiative. 20 regional artists have been invited to create environmental artworks utilizing Highfield Hall’s building, grounds and gardens, and the adjacent trails and walls of Beebe Woods surrounding the property. All works are large scale, temporary, and have no lasting impact on the natural environment.
The goal of the exhibition is to encourage visitors to explore the area where the manicured lawns of Highfield Hall meet the woodlands of Beebe Woods– via passageways and portals. Each passageway will guide the visitor in and through to an unexpected place. Portals will offer the visitor an opportunity to explore a different point of view. These experiences can be physical, visual, emotional and even transcendent. The artworks encourage contemplation and discovery.
The exhibition is appropriate for families, and a keepsake map and guidebook to the art and artists will be available for $5.00.
-This exhibition is supported by the Lovell Charitable Foundation.
Featured Artists Statements:
Check Your Phone
Sven Atema & Jenny Junker
Our work is about the role technology plays in our experiences in and of nature. There are so many ways of connecting to nature now with our devices that do not require us to “be” in nature. This does not necessarily diminish it as an experience. Oftentimes it can add to our understanding and wonder of the natural world. Yet in other ways it can take us out of the direct experience being in nature.
It happens more and more when we are having a moment of wonder in nature it makes us want to immediately document it; these days more often than not with a phone. And not only document it but share it immediately with the world. It poses the question of our connectivity to the experience itself or to the experience of documenting and sharing. Or can we do both?
Woodland Wonder Way
Pathways in the woods are an amazing natural balance of evidence from animals, humans, and the natural undergrowth of trees. Deer, coyotes and otters are examples of the meandering tracks I see. In the moist undergrowth of woodlands I find the most fascinating pathways of moss. My piece for this show celebrates this wonder of the mossy path with a sapling woven trail lain with wool dyed moss. It is my love of the natural world and of the textile arts that inspire my expression for this show.
While illustrating the evident beauty of the site and the power of nature to produce this wild variety of beauty through the passage of time and the effect of the elements, I would also hope to reveal the fragility of nature and create a sculpture for the site symbolic of the delicate balance humans all too obliviously ignore.
Celestial Passage Walking Labyrinth: Spirit, Space and Time
This labyrinth is based on the classic Chartres left handed 5 circuit design. As one enters the gateway from the west, you are directed along a winding path facing east towards the rising sun representing hope and transformation. Along your meditative journey toward the center are hand carved benches placed along the outer edge set in alignment with the four points of the compass to help connect your spirit to the universe. The center spire sun dial provides a critical connection to time along your journey in life. Come walk for personal, psychological and spiritual transformation or just for fun.
Betty Carroll Fuller and Mary Kane
“Just as Robert Motherwell painted / many simple lines/ window-like and doorlike / since the mind knows on its own / the necessity of passage…” These lines, from one of the poems in Mary Kane’s collection Door, inform our collaboration. There are doors all about us, experiences entered into by way of art, poetry, meditation, sorrow. Passage through often either requires or results in transformation. There is risk involved, but necessity.
The Spirits of the Garden
The life that inhabits the branches of the tree is protected and watched over by spiritual entities, fairies, angels, good doer. So the tree represents the portals and passageways between the spiritual, and the living.These sprites are represented by the glass inserts in some of the branches! These spirits often seek the cover of trees and wooded areas. They are sometimes mistaken for lightning bugs, or even shooting stars! They can be found wherever life exists!
Through the Rabbit Hole
“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?” ( from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)
“Through the Rabbit Hole” explores the iconic story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in silhouette papercutting. Visitors enter our fantasy world and see Alice free falling through a 7-foot-tall cut paper vortex. Alice next finds herself seated among all our favorite Wonderland characters in a 6-foot-long cut paper Tea Party. Silhouettes of cups, tea pots, pocket watches and skeleton keys dance in the wind as visitors recall this popular Lewis Carroll classic.
My piece was inspired by two invasives pervasive on Cape Cod: bittersweet vines and marine debris. I chose the location for my installation because of the presence of already-established bittersweet vines on the small group of trees just next to the large beech tree on which I installed my piece. All of the marine debris I used was found washed up on local beaches or discarded at boat docks. The collection of these art materials has doubled as a form of environmental activism, and my hope is that this piece will inspire viewers to pick up some marine debris next time they visit a beach.
Om according to Indian mystics is the original sound of the universe. When chanted, it rises up from the belly and expands and vibrates with all of reality. A tree is one of earth’s most amazing manifestations. A tree rises up, fills the air with leaf, branch, and fruit; and yet remains rooted to the earth.
Tree Om is a reverberation of space, an emptiness that has form, a round, wooden window.
Matt Inman & David Chapman
I feel like I am the best version of myself when I am working outside in nature creating with me hands. I was inspired by some photos that I saw about environmental art and wanted the opportunity and challenge of creating something truly artistic.
Fragment House was created in collaboration with Mary Pinard, whose poetry and selected fragments grace the window and “walls.” The sculpture is a filter of light in the landscape, a layered 3-dimensional drawing of a house; inspired by architectural follies, fishing nets, green houses, playhouses, sheds and abandoned buildings. The incompleteness of material fragments and abandoned buildings engages my fantasies of what may have been and what might be. Touch is integral to the work—each individual piece having been broken and worn to the bit that is left, then hand-tied to my wire net. Through exposure, collection and reassembly, losses from breakage are transformed into a new whole.
Hither and Yon
From whence did you come and where are you headed? And what is going on now, right at this moment? I invite passersby to pause and reflect on these questions, as they read my felt-covered wire sign. When looking for a spot to build my piece, this beech tree beckoned like an eager hitch hiker leaning toward the path. It seemed like a natural place to stop, take notice, and maybe even encounter something new and unexpected, before moving along.
The Maya artisans of pre-Columbian Mexico carved images of their rulers and warriors in stone. For these ancient people the images were more than a dedication- they were a living, direct connection to the afterlife. My site-specific work for ‘Portals and Passageways’ uses this idea as a point of departure. Original photographs of the Beebe family have been rephotographed and blown up to a large format size, then physically adhered to stones on the property. These stones are the raw material of their land and were the foundation for their homes. This merging of stone and image authorizes the symbolic (if not real) link between Highfield today and it’s not too distant past.
Water Study in silk and white pines
In the early planning stages of this piece, I had hoped to design a water sculpture – a fountain, the shape of which would have been dictated by the confines of the mysterious stone circle. As the project and material selection has evolved, the original visualization has not. I continue to see the structure in liquid form, yet I have chosen to challenge the viewer with an unexpected color palette. It should evoke strong emotion, as it does for me. Hopefully that emotion will run the gamut, depending on the individual viewer’s age and life experiences.
Gypsy’s staircase (Highfield Hall)
This staircase through a landscape of rhododendrons struck me immediately as a magical path. Moving through a three dimensional space is a time linked experience, both fleeting and intangible. In this collage I try to evoke the expectation of an immersive descent – a floating/falling. As I worked on the image, I often thought of Alice as she went tripping down the rabbit hole, in hot pursuit of the blessed unknown.
With its natural ingredients and beautiful appearance, glass sparks our imagination and curiosity with ease. Either on a shelf or in a window reflecting the rays of the sun, glass acts as a portal, using its unique ability to take our mind somewhere special.
I feel that Mother Nature’s creations do the same, from the complex designs of the most delicate flower to an organized colony of honey bees. As we view these beautiful creations, we are taken through a similar “portal” that takes us into the tiny worlds around us.
Crystal Vision Earth Portal
The Crystal Vision Earth Portal is a galaxy of stones and crystals that emerge from a circle of native boulders on the grounds of Highfield Hall. The magnificence of the forest setting is amplified and reflected as the viewer contemplates the vastness of the Universe and the specific beauty of Earth’s many treasures. Each of the stones imbues the portal with a subtle energy and color, creating a shortcut to another dimension, Heaven on Earth.
The larger crystals–citrine-gold, sodalite-blue, amethyst-purple and quartz-white and rose–anchor the swirling bands of color and reflected light.
Using the concept of the portal as a space for contemplation or transportation between the physical and nonphysical planes. In this sense a portal as a meditation space, sensory deprivation chamber, orgone accumulator, cabins and lodges where the built and natural worlds meld, or any type of built environment that may contribute to this ‘blurring’ of the material and spiritual worlds. I consider Thoreau’s cabin, The American Indian Lodge, sacred monuments and spaces worldwide and throughout history. The shelter of the fringe; the medicine man, the shaman, the necromancer. The astral traveler does not dwell in the comfort zone.
“Nature’s Book” invites you to touch its surface and experience forms and textures of nature at your fingertips. If you close your eyes as you run your hand over the bronze leaves, cones and rounded edges of the book, perhaps you will enter a garden or forested grove of your own imagination. The sculpture is a kind of touchstone, a reference, a portal to nature itself. I hope you will linger and experience this art work directly.
A Wind in the Door
A Wind in the Door is a fairy tale gate that announces the presence of things unseen. When open, it allows humans and other earthly creatures to pass. When closed, fairies, spirits, and other wind-borne creatures can still move through it, and the sounds of the gate panels are the only evidence that they were here at all. The gate is not only inspired by things that dwell in Beebe Woods, but also by the fantastical creatures in some of the artist’s favorite childhood stories. Books are portals to the imagination, and their pages are passageways to other realms. The panels of this gate are filled with illustrations of benevolent creatures that have transported the storybook characters to other places or have transformed them in some way.
Whose Woods These Are
Since its beginning and throughout its changes in ownership, Beebe Woods has always been a place set aside for the simple pleasure of walking. When modern walkers explore these woods, they’re retracing paths taken by countless others before them. So why do we find it valuable to spend time in nature? For me there is a sense of expansiveness and reflection that is only possible in these quiet spaces. There’s a shift in perspective, a gentle interruption of our normal racing thoughts, that makes us feel both at home and yet subtly changed. The title “Whose Woods These Are” is a reminder that although this place was once a private luxury, it is now a public resource – to be both enjoyed and protected.
Be sure to check out our companion exhibition, through the summer!
Thank you to the local businesses who are supporting the artists in this exhibition: