Making in Place: Art in the Open exhibition

By Anna Lehr Mueser, Manager of Communications & Digital Strategy and Liz Jelsomine, Environmental Art & PR Intern

This summer 14 artists will extend the Schuylkill Center’s art gallery onto our trails, with art that explores concepts in placemaking, reused materials, and natural-unnatural sound. These works were forged as part of Art in the Open, a public art event which brings art-making into public, along Schuylkill Banks in May. Dozens of artists participate in the biannual Art in the Open event and afterward, each brings their work to a gallery or art site around the City of Philadelphia, reinventing their artwork in a new context and drawing on their experience in Art in the Open.

This summer, the we are pleased to be hosting 14 of the Art in the Open 2016 artists, offering them the opportunity to bring their work into a natural context and adapt their work to our spaces. We’ll be featuring Aaron Asis, Jane Carver, Oki Fukunaga, Mary Olin Geiger, Elizabeth Hoy, Cayla Lockwood, C. Pazia Mannella, Heather McMordie, Angela McQuillan, Sarah Peoples, Leah Reynolds, Marian (Stasiorowski) Howard, and Katie VanVlient and Samuel Cusumano. An opening reception for Making in Place will be held on May 24th at 6 pm.

At the opening, artists will talk about their property and Director of Environmental Art Christina Catanese will lead a guided walk to explore the outdoor installations, ending with a performance developed by experimental accordion and vocal performer Jane Carver.

The show’s title, Making in Place, elegantly evokes one of the central components of Art in the Open: art that responds to and is part of the place where it is made. In this case, artists adapt their work and create new works to respond to the unique feel of the place where it is both created and installed. Poet Cayla Lockwood writes her poetry in reused scrap fabric woven into structures – both natural and built – to embed her words with the landscape. Sound and sculpture artists Katie VanVlient and Samuel Cusumano, of DataGarden, bring their “biodata sonification” device, which collects real-time data from plants and translates it into sound and graphic printouts as the plants respond to external stimuli.

Several of the artists are offering works that are generated through field work at the Schuylkill Center – Jane Carver and Marian (Stasiorowski) Howard both took research visits to our site to prepare for the opening, and both will offer additional opportunities to connect with the artists.

Again, emphasizing the nature of art made in and about place, Jane Carver, an experimental accordionist, vocalist, and sound artist, will offer two performances in conjunction with Making in Place, one at the opening on May 24 and one on July 20. Integrating recordings taken at the Schuylkill Center into her sung and instrumental music, Carver offers a unique musical approach to seeing, feeling, and hearing nature.

Marian (Stasiorowski) Howard’s five-foot wooden cube holds a mosaic of polaroid emulsion photographs, many taken at the Schuylkill Center. The otherworldly effect of the polaroid development, paired with impact of photographs taken here and displayed here, create a striking work. Howard will also offer an outdoor photography and composition class on July 8.

From the interactive to the surprising, Making in Place demonstrates the power of art in response to specific place. “By creating works that respond directly to their environment,” says Director of Environmental Art Christina Catanese, “these artists offer us a way to notice things we overlook, to pause and hear the sounds – human and not – that fill our ears, to feel what it means for art to be grounded in a specific place.”

Editor’s note: this piece was published in our spring 2017 member newsletter, the Quill.