The Nature of Things
In accordance with SVA COVID-19 protocols, in-person viewing is restricted to SVA students, faculty and staff.
School of Visual Arts (SVA) presents “The Nature of Things” an exhibition of multidisciplinary work by eight SVA students and alumni. Curated by artist, curator and writer Dan Halm (MFA 2001 Illustration as Visual Essay; BFA 1994 Illustration), the exhibition will be on view from Thursday, September 30, through Saturday, October 16, at the SVA Flatiron Gallery, 133/141 West 21st Street, New York City.
“The Nature of Things” explores the reaction to man’s continued influence and perceived dominance over the natural world. In a time when humans were forced to re-examine and contemplate their significance over their actions, nature both offered a respite and showcased its true dominance over human kind. “Our relationship to the natural world should perhaps be the most important relationship we have,” Halm says. “Inactivity in the face of climate change, mass extinctions, global pandemics and food and water shortages must all be taken very seriously in this time and age. If not for our own benefit, then for that of future generations.”
MFA Art Practice student Theodora Elizer’s series “Soft Decay” explores the function of fungi as an organic Internet and the extended intelligence of the natural world. Inspired by research findings that indicate that fungi are the solution to the current plastic crisis and influenced by an anthropomorphic and animist perspective on both manmade and organic entities, the series represents embracing impermanence and finding beauty and meaning in loss, asserting that the natural world is a benevolent caregiver that will help us rectify our ecological mistakes.
The work of Becca Guzzo (MFA 2020 Fine Arts) centers around the way that humans commodify nature and animals, turning them into forms of visual entertainment. There is an objectification process that happens throughout the creation of her work—turning natural imagery into beautifully made art objects.
Ruminating on the Western U.S. landscapes affected by fire and drought, Emily Klass (MFA 2020 Art Practice) thinks about the human influence on the land, with its history of western expansion supported by a belief in manifest destiny. These paintings are love letters to the land and contain within them a thread of hope for humanity.
Way In is a site-specific performance for video by MFA Art Practice student Sarah Martin-Muss that explores the state of entrapment. Using the materiality of an abandoned house and a found canoe, the action of rocking the canoe back and forth is performed by subtle movements of the artist’s body. Through the performance, the artist synthesizes with the canoe, becoming the backbone for a restless entity that is beached inside the home. Way In presents feelings of tension, confinement and isolation within the domestic realm during a global health crisis.
For MFA Fine Arts student Zhao Zhang’s site-specific performance for video Flowing Out of the Frozen River, the artist explores the stagnation and movement
in a frozen winter during a global pandemic. His actions on the river are both fluid and frozen, a reaction to self-isolation and the stillness of winter.
Artists Colin Bliven (BFA 2021 Photography and Video), SoHee Kim (MFA 2021 Fine Arts) and Eugenia So (BFA 2020 Photography and Video) are also showing work in “The Nature of Things.”
The SVA Flatiron Gallery is open Monday through Friday, from 10:00am to 6:00pm, and closed on Saturdays and Sundays. In accordance with SVA COVID-19 protocols, in-person viewing is restricted to SVA students, faculty and staff. There is an online component to the show at sva.edu/exhibitions.