PHILADELPHIA, PA.- The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education presents Ephemerality, on view through April 12, 2009. Ephemerality is an experimental gallery exhibition curated by Art Program Manager Zoë Cohen, that explores ways in which art, communication, and technology can be used to create a greater sense of connection and meaning within reclaimed wild spaces, natural time, weather, and seasons. In this exhibition, artists present works that directly reflect the impact that 24 hours on the land of the Schuylkill Center had on their own awareness, creative process, and use of visual material.
Zoë selected six artists and one artist team from about twenty submissions, to create temporary artworks with natural materials on the grounds of the Schuylkill Center, with the guidelines that the artworks created must last no more than 24 hours. The installations, sculptures, interventions, or events created were documented by the artists using photography, video, sound, and text. These documentations of the outdoor ephemeral artwork comprise the gallery exhibition.
The artists in the exhibition are from Philadelphia, New York City, California and Virginia. Each artist chose his or her own way to relate to the land and the natural materials found here. Some devised their project before arriving, and searched for the materials and perfect location on the land once they arrived. Others arrived with an open-ended vision, and allowed their experience of the land to shape their art in the moment. Here is a look into three of the projects and how the artists experienced the Schuylkill Center through their art:
Shadowlandscape by Jenn Figg and Tatiana Ginsberg depicts the creation and destruction of the imagined shadow of a single large tree. The site specific "drawing" was formed from recycled bits of handmade paper during the course of a single afternoon in Founders’ Grove, and is transformed into an animation that follows the artists as they clear ground, create, alter, and finally sweep away their fragmentary paper shadow. They write, “The day we made Shadowlandscape at the Schuylkill Center was overcast and still, temperate, and damp from the rains that darkened the trees and the ground. As the day progressed, the drawing's movement mimicked the fading light of day as the paper mixed with the earth and eventually became as it began, a peaceful cove within the city.”
Forever Lasts a Day by Matt Pychis atext-based installation that presents words such as forever, eternal, and infinite, stenciled onto the ground using natural materials, and invites viewer to reflect on our place in the world now and in the future. Matt says, “When I arrived to create my piece Forever Lasts a Day it was not only my first time at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education but it was also my first time visiting Philadelphia. I quickly found the Schuylkill Center as well as the city to be very special. I was immediately taken by the size of the preserve, and as I began to walk around, the diversity of the different natural areas within the grounds from deep, moist forests to dry, open fields.”
Artist Claudia Sbrissa arrived at the Schuylkill Center on December 21st, the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. She found that “the actual conditions of the day with its dramatic and fluctuating weather only added to the profoundness of the day. Having no preconceived ideas about what I would do, I allowed this time spent in the Pine Grove to inform and inspire my piece. The day began with rain which quickly turned to an ice storm, encasing the trees in a delicate coating of ice. By noon the sun came out turning the already beautiful woods into a magical wonderland. The resulting installation and accompanying book seek to communicate my experiences that day and as well as to inspire a reconsideration our shared connectedness with nature and with each other.”
In North America, only 4.5% of the land surface is protected from development. Increasing environmental stewardship requires meaningful connection to land and nature. The collected projects span a wide range of materials, approaches, and content, but all speak to the need for increasing attention and experience in natural spaces, and the meaning for humanity that can be found there.