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MassArt galleries display art of nature, architecture

Posted by Johanna Kaiser  January 30, 2012 02:12 PM

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MassArt Henderson.jpg

(Photo by Etienne Frossard)

David Henderson's A History of Aviation-Part 2 and several other exhibits are on display at MassArt.

Nature, architecture, and a person’s relationship with each are at the center of two free exhibits opening at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design Monday.

In the exhibit Verdant, artists explore people’s relationship with the environment while using nature as their canvas.

In Military Foliage artist Binh Danh uses chlorophyl printing to transfer images of camouflage onto tropical leaves to comment on defoliation campaign during the Vietnam War, but also includes camouflage used from World War II to today to signify nature bearing witness to human tragedy.

Tim Knowles, a British artist, used trees as the artists instead of the canvas in his Tree Drawings that show what different species of trees can create when left alone.

MassArt TimKnowles2.jpgKnowles spent two weeks in October attaching pens to branches of trees in the Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain and let the trees and the wind draw on canvases for 20 to 40 minutes.

Knowles couldn’t name his favorite tree artist, but pointed out how trees such as willows create sweeping delicate drawings while an elms create harsher, stronger lines.

“They all have such different qualities,” he said Friday as he and worked setting up their exhibits. “[The drawings] capture the character of the tree.”

Knowles will also show photographs and videos of the trees drawing on the canvases next to the works they created.

Paula Hayes has created miniature terrariums to create microcosms of the natural world while continue to care for the plants. While the Workingman Collective has created much larger piece of art inviting visitors to join each other on a swing covered in plants.

While Verdant explores nature, the accompanying exhibit, Edifice Amiss: Constructing New Perspectives, offers a variety of installations offering a new perspective of architecture.

“We took what we remembered and put it back together,” Annie Han said standing in an elevated plywood cityscape void of buildings but busy with familiar shapes to any urban dweller, such as a newspaper box, garage door, or air conditioner.

Han and Daniel Mihalyo of Seattle-based Lead Pencil Studio spent three and a half weeks re-building elements of what they saw in Chinatowns and other ethnic neighborhoods in city’s around the country without including the architecture of the buildings to focus on what people really encounter in the city.

Han described it as a way of “mapping the void space in the dense city.”

Below the cityscape, David Henderson has built 20-foot-tall semi-translucent models of fan vaulting found in medieval churches shoots from the floor while Esther Stocker has installed minimalist shapes on the walls and balcony floors.

Verdant is open until March 10 and Edifice Amiss is open until March 3 at the Stephen D. Paine and Sandra & David Bakalar galleries in the South Building on the MassArt campus. The galleries are open Monday through Saturday 12 to 6 p.m., and on Wednesdays until 8 p.m.

A public opening reception for the exhibits is set for Monday from 6 to 8 p.m.

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Email Kaiser at or follow her on Twitter @JohannaKaiser.

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