Art and nature can transport people to extraordinary worlds, and the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum and art community have once again made this experience magical in their third collaborative exhibition.
From May through November, 2017, visitors are welcomed to wander Art in the Arboretum: Environmental Installations – a magnificent outdoor exhibition highlighting eleven sculptures merged with the native plant life of South African and New Zealand landscapes.
Environmental Installations has been curated by local artist, Susana Arias. Arias has brought her creative spirit and expertise to the Arboretum to illuminate the facility’s rare botanical collections and promote diverse work by local and guest artists. She has selected work from twelve professional artists based throughout California: Jamie Abbott, Lucia Bruer, Wendy Domster, Barbara Downs, Ethan Estess, Jayson Fann, Diana Hobson, Roy Holmberg, John Hylton, Sharon Loper, Jenni Ward and Larry Worley. Several sculptures have been created exclusively for this exhibition; all of them represent unique perspectives of art installation and the environment.
The exhibition engages all the senses, enhances the art, and elevates the surrounding gardens. Traversing through carefully maintained trails, lush fields, and exotic flora and fauna, visitors will come across eleven three-dimensional sculptures representing mixed media, including wood, ceramic, steel, organic and recycled materials.
Visitors can experience giant woven nests, handmade wild mustard flowers, walk-through concentric circles evoking the Protea flower, and more. They conjure up varied impressions – whimsical, mysterious, introspective, and expressive. Each sculpture is conveniently marked and accompanied by laminated forms that share about the material, meaning, and creative process.
The installations offer visitors the opportunity to pause and ponder the artistic craftsmanship, absorb the natural beauty of the Arboretum, and escape into an otherworldly, wonder-filled dimension. The sculptures replicate nature in imaginative ways, like the giant concrete steel leaf and Eucalyptus seedpods that appear windswept against the fence, or the six-foot seashell playfully lodged in a tree. Others – like the life-sized carved wood figures and mythological beasts – symbolize ancient interactions between nature, humans, and creatures. Several sculptures move, creating a sense of energy that compliments the vibrancy of the natural setting.
The widespread spaciousness and multi-dimensional quality of the Arboretum’s South African and New Zealand regions allow for the discovery of each sculpture to be delightfully unexpected. Each piece blends so well within the gardens that it’s almost easy to mistake them for part of the landscape’s past – they appear to belong there. Visitors can have close contact with each installation, inspiring a more tactile and participatory experience of the work and wilderness.
Environmental Installations is a project that educates, enchants, and is enriched by symbiotic relationships: nature and humanity; organic and handmade creation; Arboretum, artists, and community.
Art in the Arboretum: Environmental Installations
UC Santa Cruz Arboretum
May 20 – November 17, 2017
Opening Reception Saturday, May 20, 3-6 pm.