Updated: Apr 20, 2020
It is that time of year again when art floods the Botanical Gardens on the south end of campus at the University of Delaware. Coinciding with the AG Day festival, the Art in the Garden Exhibition takes art out of the isolated school gallery and presents it to the public in a way that welcomes them; allowing them to engage on their own terms. The response is always great! Attendees of all ages could be seen climbing on/in and snapping pictures, of course the kids did most of the climbing. Show organizer and professor David Meyer describes it as the whole point of art, saying, "Art in the Garden takes art back to being fun."
Included in the show are sculptural works from student artists at both Towson University and the University of Delaware. On their end they face the challenge of making work that functions outside the gallery; something not often asked of them. Year after year the artists rise to the challenge and this year was no different. It’s almost a challenge to recognize all the events of AG Day when surrounded by such wonderful sculpture. When you can compete with live sheep shearing and cow milking you are doing something right.
Here are some of the works from the Exhibition:
Sebastian Velasquez wows with a striking unicycle. With a bicycle seat and pedals attached to a massive industrial tire, it is impossible to miss. Bold color combines with huge scale and just the right amount of humor. Standing in front of it you only thought is should I ride it?
Adele Kaczmarek's work has a poetic nature. A white slab stands monumental at the end of a long garden pathway. From afar you notice the clusters impeding the structure like fungus overtaking it. However as you get closer the tension builds between the slab and its adjoined clusters. The steel wire is just a tad too tight for comfort. The clusters turn from fungus to flesh. There’s a struggle between the slabs effort to hold up the sacks and the sack want to dangle freely. Kaczmarek toes the line between being protective and restraining. Overbearing, overprotective. Security is good but sometimes the leash is too tight.
Anna Marciniak flexes her muscles in tradition sculpture ideals. The bold pink color working in tandem with and vibrating off of the green surroundings. The stacked pipes are arranged in a seemingly impossible structure. The height contradicts the notion that it is anything but stable. Its sheer existence plays with your mind. Then your eyes work through the piece, in and out, up and down, zig and zag, again vibrating. Pausing only to notice again the structure as a whole and the cycle repeats.
Lia Eisenstadt's work rests in the central opening of the gardens. Anchoring the whole show, her work jumps off of the natural backdrop and nestles up to the environment simultaneously. With this piece Eisenstadt wrestles with the idea of femininity and what it means in today's society. She describes it as being fed up with the responsibility of defining femininity. Social pressure set a mold and it is on your to fit into it or break it. The character personifies being overstimulate and just over it at the same time. All of this animated in a life sized, sunny side up egg wearing red heels, whose yolk is filled with symbols of femininity. Each element obviously bearing its own conceptual weight that can be interpreted in its own way by each viewer.
Claire Ciccarone plays with the interaction between man made and organic, truly fitting the the landscape of an outdoor art exhibition. Taking furniture adorned with stone and mosaic and placing in the garden. A thick mossy coating wraps the objects entangling them in the landscape. There is something beautiful about the idea of material being taken from nature pieced together for function and aesthetic and then placed back in nature; only to be enveloped by fungus. The piece as a whole wrangles colorful symbols of humanity and elements of nature and places them in a harmonious tea party.
John Halligan continues his portfolio of intricate wood carvings at the garden with a series of carved logs. The logs, dead with clean cut ends, are mounted vertically in a way close to how you would picture a tree to grow. Halligan takes these logs and carves elements of humanity into them. Adding human characteristics returns the life to the dismembered trees, but in a new way. Hands often adorn the tops of each vertical pillar. They can be seen as standard mode of human interaction. Shaking hands, holding hands, relating.
Lauren Alexander’s work features words atop a swiveling post. It stands as a beacon drawing people in. Reminiscent of a corporate sign or icon at the entrance of an amusement park, Alexander plays off the experience of entering a corporate space. In this case the object announces a more subverted message. Void of bright colors, the stark white pole and the washed out gray letters counteract the function of selling you something. Rather the piece suggests and seemingly accepts the fact that you will take in the message or you won’t.