Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Part II-Lynden's Exceptional Exhibition "Sweet Corruptions"

Emilie Clark in the Garden with the Four "R's"

By Peggy Sue
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For the Wisconsin summer, the Lynden Sculpture Garden imports New York artist Emilie Clark’s exhibition titled “Sweet Corruptions,” while they continue their thought provoking series, “Women, Nature, Science.” Clark’s installations “In the Garden,” seen and used on a June Sunday was a prelude to the season itself when walking through the monumental art on the grounds to locate Clark’s installation: Research Station: The Fourth R, 2013.

Clark’s portable field station resembles a very basic wooden box split open, a replica of what any scientist might have used, including her inspiration, MIT scientist Ellen H. Richards, in the late 1800’s to conduct research on outdoor environments. The small structure resembles an old steamer trunk turned on end, one that could be opened or closed when unused to keep the inclement elements away.Inside, the compact station is fitted with shelves for books, a microscope, insect specimens and an old fashioned log, the tried and true moleskin paper notebook for writing and then a worm stool on wheels to sit on while at working at Clark’s “station.” [Interesting note: Retailer Renovation Hardware produced an adult, indoor model constructed from leather to act as a library unit with a drop down desk based on this historical design.]

The interactive installation involves all four “R’s:” Reading, Writing, Arithmetic and then Research. Viewers may participate and peruse the miniature library or view insects from glass vials or those pinned to a board under the microscope. Data and research regarding worms and worm composting was hung from one shelf, easy to reach, as were all materials with instructions for engaging with the ecological information that inhabits Lynden Garden and inspired Clark and her muse, Richards.

Also on display, Clark's paper bound chapbook that contains thoughts from The Art of Living Right, 2012, which could also be heard through headphones in audio form instead of visual. As one sits on the worm stool, the viewer can only imagine the very progressive professor Richards studying these ecological systems in her own backyard, or at a field, forest and stream near her house. And then subsequently logging her observations by note taking, recording the information daily to improve her home’s and then perhaps the world’s environment by what she learned.

As a woman scientist and philosopher far ahead of her time period, the Sanitary Chemist Richards pursued this  science ecology, in its infancy, studying through nature as prodigiously as she believed in keeping her own domestic life sustainably sound and stable. A incredibly futuristic idea in her lifetime because today’s culture has only recently examined, returned, to more natural and organic cleaning products and fertilizers, promoting local gardening and produce combined with a host of other concepts Richards posited in the late 19th century.

This quote taken from Clark’s compilation of poetic prose in her The Art of Right Living testifies to several of these beliefs: Hurry and worry are the greatest hindrances to nutrition/ and recuperation. The cheerfulness/ of health, the happy non-care worn life/ is worth striving for. Amusements/going to the play, to the concert/ to a pleasant party provides rest to the/overworked nerves. 

While one sits at the stool, or admires the recently planted Pilot Garden, time allows one to ponder and reflect on the Lynden’s modern sculpture and the parties the Bradley’s probably celebrated in their private domain. Amusements in a domestic life to carry away hurry and worry from their other concerns, including a world war. Clark’s current Pilot Garden creates a tribute to the victory gardens of that era, and of course in the 21st century, as a means for contributing to local food sources.

Many homes/communities certainly contemplate growing their own food sources, and so Clark’s Pilot Garden places an exclamation point to Richards’ belief in a sustainable domestic life, where the family would appreciate their food, when they worked with their hands to plant and pick the harvest, later to be cooked and enjoyed as nourishment to the body. Appreciation for what they might put into their own bodies, while being content to neither hurry nor worry, a point proven by research that supports looking out upon green space as opposed to concrete lowers the blood pressure and promotes faster healing.

Clark and her predecessor Richards have presented touchstones to concerns and issues regarding the private and communal environment to encourage ultimate personal health a century apart. Visit the Lynden Garden several times throughout the summer to conduct some personal research. Then slow down and study the flora and fauna surrounding the contemporary art. Or better yet, after the visit buy a small piece of art, or some seeds to pot, a tiny herb plant. Carry this to one’s domestic space to start appreciating the four ”R’s," and their benefits from a new perspective. (Exhibitions  continues through August 25, 2013) 

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