‘Wild Designs: Animal Constructions,” currently on view at the D&R Greenway Land Trust, is an artist-driven exhibition that explores art as natural impulse — very natural.
The show involves 10 regional artists inspired by animal construction and design.
Originally launched at the Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) in November, 2015, this new and growing phase of the artistic effort marks its official opening Friday, May 13, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the Land Trust’s Johnson Education Center in Princeton.
Perrineville-based artist and “Wild Design” organizer Donna Payton shares her thoughts about the exhibition:
I became fascinated with animal ‘artists’ when I discovered the book ‘Animal Architects, Building and the Evolution of Intelligence’ by (Princeton University professor of evolutionary biology) James L. Gould and (author and scholar) Carol Grant Gould. The forms of cocoons, ant hills, and clay tunnels of the organ pipe wasp builders inspired my sculptures and drawings. As a sculptor and installation artist, I could relate to the animals’ collecting of materials, selecting a site and planning the building process.
Animals use paper, silk, adobe, resin, wax, clay, sticks, grass, fibers, stones, lichen, found objects from trash and garbage dumps as well as hair, feathers and self-secreted materials. Artists also work with these materials.
Excited by the connection between artists and animals, our brethren as creators, I invited Harry Bower (an ACP instructor), Linda Gebhard (in Hightstown), Kathleen Preziosi ( ACP), and Richard Sanders (Princeton) to read the Goulds’ book and join me in an exhibition using the animal architects’ ingenuity for building and constructing as a reference.
While not intended as a scientific replication of actual animals’ homes, the book served as our departure point and inspirational fodder. We combined many of the same construction materials used by animals with traditional art materials and technology. Shapes and forms created by the original animal builders are explored and re-imagined by the artists.
I searched for artists who had an organic approach and fondness for a variety of materials. They needed to be adventuresome builders interested in the forms animals build. I also wanted a selection of artistic disciplines — weaver, ceramicist, painters, and sculptors.
I envision the show as a traveling exhibition in which new works by the core five artists will be exhibited and new artists will be added as the show opens in different galleries. By ‘growing’ the exhibition, it is becoming a form of its own, much like the communal growth of a termite mound or wasp nest, continually added onto and revised.
“Wild Design” — with new work by Susan Hoenig (Princeton), Gyuri Hollosy (Titusville), Joy Kreves (Ewing), Eva Mantell (Princeton), and Libby Ramage (Princeton) — is on view through June 17. The show then evolves into the exhibition “Animal Architects: Influences on Human Creativity” at the Princeton Day School in early 2017 and at the Monmouth Museum in Lincroft from May 21 to September 3, 2017.
Wild Designs: Animal Constructions, D&R Greenway Land Trust, One Preservation Way, Princeton, opening reception, Friday, May 13, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., free. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday, May 24, 1 to 4 p.m. 609-924-4646 or www.drgreenway.org.