Now more than ever, ecological themes are present in the collective consciousness. Nature is calling to be nurtured, and you can see the human response everywhere from the trend of floral patterns in fashion to images of the natural world in the fine arts. Our awareness of ecological issues is rapidly evolving and mother earth is speaking through people’s creations.
In her new work on view in “Visionary Sugar: Works by Kiki Smith” at the Neuberger Museum of Art, held at SUNY Purchase College, artist Kiki Smith explores the themes of nature, the feminine and the universe.
Curator Helaine Posner told ArtDaily:
“The exhibition includes new large-scale drawings, printed collages, woven tapestries, multi-colored gilded reliefs, and cast bronze and aluminum sculpture. In this work, Smith explores the profound interdependence of all living things, representing and embracing the vitality of an animistic, spiritually-charged universe. Her imagery includes the female and male figure; birds, reptiles, and animals; flowers and trees; and the sun, moon and stars.”
Kiki Smith’s work carries a personal narrative of a transformational process symbolized by her connection to nature and the body. It also addresses the collective experience of being on this planet at this time. As the artist says, the work brings to light “…how imperative it is at this moment to celebrate and honor the wondrous and precarious nature of being here on earth.”
Kiki’s earlier works were obscure and painful portrayals of the human form, noting the inherent suffering of the body. These new works seem to be a celebration of the body, the earth, the physical objects of nature, honoring the feminine. Her own journey epitomizes a shift in how we relate to these things that are healing and balancing for us all, a shift in which we honor the physical realm, and respect our bodies, our resources and this planet we call home.
Among the works are three large tapestries called “Earth,” “Underworld,” and “Sky.” (See above) Together, these images suggest the process of transformation or a spiritual journey, which is symbolized by the evolving relationship to the natural elements and suggests an awakening or heightened consciousness via connection to the earth.
In addition to the images, the tapestries themselves evoke symbols of ancient traditions in which the weaving of cloth represents the creative process and childbirth. In almost every cosmology, the earth is of a feminine nature and the cosmos is masculine. In these works, one senses a feminine strength as the woman reclaims her power.
Becoming more aware of our bodies and our relationship to this planet are the keys to our success as a species. These beautiful works of art remind us of the importance of consciously addressing our relationship to this planet, appreciating it, and seeing that there is infinite potential for transformation in our existence here on earth.
Photos courtesy of Pace Gallery and the Neuberger Museum of Art of Purchase College.