JMKAC exhibit explores 'Uncommon Ground' in large scale

The John Michael Kohler Arts Center presents five enveloping, multisensory “landscapes” inspired by the changing relationships between humankind and the natural world in Uncommon Ground, an exciting new exhibition series on view through Sept. 22.

Three large-scale works of art by artists John Grade of Washington, Lauren Fensterstock of Maine, and the New York-based team of Wade Kavanaugh and Stephen B. Nguyen were commissioned by the Arts Center especially for Uncommon Ground, in keeping with its role as a laboratory for the creation of new work and a forum for the exploration of ideas. Each of these gallery-size installations can be seen only during the exhibition’s run. The exhibition also presents photographic and ceramic works by Kate MacDowell (OR) and stainless steel sculptures by Carolyn Ottmers (IL).

Gallery visitors, like the commissioned artists, are asked to consider Aldo Leopold’s idea of a “land ethic.” In his renowned book The Sand County Almanac, the famed Wisconsin ecologist proposed that all elements of the natural world—the soils, waters, plants, and animals—be considered when making use of, or changes to, the land. He believed that people who closely observe the land gain a better appreciation for the connections all living things share.

For centuries, artists have observed nature and drawn inspiration from it. The artists included in Uncommon Ground continue that tradition. Their works illuminate the link between human existence and the larger natural world, and address such topics as climate change, species extinction, and the history of landscape design. Uncommon Ground affords viewers the opportunities both to experience the artists’ insights into that complex interaction and to contemplate their own relationship with nature


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