ST. LOUIS, MO.- The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis presents Irish artist Katie Holten in her first solo museum exhibition in the United States, on view through August 5, 2007. Paths of Desire is Holtens largest and most ambitious exhibition to date, featuring a large-scale sculptural installation and drawings that explore global ecology and the importance of advocacy at a time of environmental crisis. Presented at a time of increasing global concern over the toll of human activity on the environment, Paths of Desire presents a powerful opportunity for the community to use the lens of contemporary art to evaluate our impact on the landscape and engage in a plan of advocacy on behalf of the planet.
During a month-long residency at the Contemporary, Holten will create a life-size replica of a native Missouri tree using paper, cardboard, newspaper, and other materials consumed in the day-to-day workings at the museum. Hanging with its roots exposed at eye level, this incredible sculptural object will fill the gallery space. Visually, the tree will pull the viewer in to take a closer look, an invitation to examine its artificiality and consider its drama in and out of the natural world. Viewers will be able to walk right up to the tree, where they will be eye level with the roots and the tree trunk and the crown will loom above. The transformed materials ask us to consider natures cycles of interdependence and the suspended tree and root system invite us to question the precarious balance we strive to maintain with our natural environment.
Holtens drawings, a series entitled Trees of the U.S.A., reflect a study of American trees Holten undertook while in New York. The drawings closely mimic scientific observations of ecology akin to the studies of the Enlightenment. Holtens intimate drawings foster personal connections to develop between the artist, the viewers, and trees. By bringing attention to each tree, Holten endows each one with individuality. This personal act compels one to view each tree as individual, worthy of knowing and respecting. Trees of the U.S.A carry Holtens main message of environmental sustainability in a unique way; they foster appreciation in each tree through personal renderings, an investment of time that could have possibly been missed had Holten use another means of representation.