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Art & Art History


Thursday, March 01, 1990–Friday, April 06, 1990

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Artists: Joe Andoe, Deborah Butterfield, Linda Connor, Dan Devening, David Helm, Jene Highstein, Roberto Juarez, Wesley Kimler, David Klamen, Vera Klement, David Kroll, Judy Ledgerwood, Robert McCauley, Mary Miss, Nic Nicosia, Michael Paha, Francois Robert, Michael Ryan, Hollis Sigler, and Michelle Stuart

NATURE/nature, curated by Karen Indeck and Linda King, investigates multiple issues surrounding our contemporary relationship to the natural world or the idea of nature, including its representation, exploitation, and metaphorical life. NATURE/nature is accompanied by a lecture series, which includes talks by Deborah Butterfield, Helen and Newton Harrison, Jene Highstein, Michael Paha, Dominique Mazeaud, Christopher Brown, Judy Ledgerwood, and Michelle Stuart.

The writer and artist Corey Postiglione wrote of the exhibition:

Our response to the rekindled interest in nature and its present dilemmas has been the return to traditional forms of landscape painting—a sort of postmodern nostalgia, a longing for a more pristine time of innocence. It is refreshing that this exhibition eschews this conservative and sentimental view in favor of works that are more conceptually oriented as a critique or meditation of nature.

Except for a pair of video works and two sculptural pieces, the exhibition largely comprises traditional media, such as painting, drawing, and photography, with a strong emphasis on painting. Many of the works in NATURE/nature demonstrate a kind of pathos, if not a pathetic fallacy. In David Helm ’s Fountain, a sprinkler endlessly waters the barren interior of a Plexiglas box, in a futile effort that is both humorous and affecting. Nic Nicosia ’s photograph Real Picture #11, an image of three children, gas can in hand, watching a small tree burn, is a sobering reminder of our own destructive capacity. In Michael Ryan ’s two pieces, Mulberry Tree North View and Mulberry Tree West View, the artist ground the image of a tree into twin sheets of plywood, in a gesture that explores the multiple layers of the representational history of nature. Though the works in this exhibition may elicit an emotional response, they are far from sentimental. Instead, NATURE/nature provides the audience with an opportunity to reexamine their feelings and ideas about nature in an environment that gestures toward the complexity and multifaceted quality of the man/nature duality.


Deborah Butterfield

Horse #3, 1983
Mud, sticks, and metal, 31 x 98 x 43 in.

Ohio, 1988
Found burned wood, 33 1/2 x 38 x 12 in.

Linda Connor

Arizona, 1987

Dot & Hands, Utah, 1987

Rift Hawaii, 1986

Dan Devening

Topiary #3, 1987
Colored pencil on paper, 11 x 14 in.

David Helm

Fountain, 1990
Steel, Plexiglas, hose, and water, 38 x 38 x 24 in.

Jene Highstein

Untitled, 1987–88
Granite, 108 x 48 x 28 ft.

Untitled, 1988
Elm, 72 x 36 x 27 in.

Roberto Juarez

Six Flowers, 1989
Charcoal on rice paper and acrylic on linen, 74 x 79 in.

Wesley Kimler

Persephone, 1988
Oil on canvas, 85 x 75 1/2 in.

Vera Klement

Traces, 1988
Oil on canvas, 32 x 40 in.

Judy Ledgerwood

Saffron, 1989
Oil, encaustic, and canvas, 90 x 60 in.

Robert McCauley

Tagged II, 1986
Lead, wood, nails, fiber, and glass, 13 x 17 x 5 in.

Mary Miss

Bedford Square, London, England, 1987
Wood, stone, steel, wire mesh, and paint, 40 ft. diameter, 10 ft. high

Esplanade III Model, Battery Park City, NYC, 1985
Public installation

Hayden Square, Tempe, AZ, 1987
Wood, trees, stone, steel, concrete, and water, 40 ft. diameter

Nic Nicosia

Real Picture #11, 1988
Photograph on paper, 74 x 48 in.

Michael Paha

As We Sleep, 1987

Untitled, 1988

Francois Robert

Skull, 1989
Black-and-white photograph, 38 x 42 in.

Hollis Sigler

The True Understanding of Her Nature, 1988
Pastel on paper, 25 1/2 x 30 1/2 in.

Michelle Stuart

In The Beginning . . . Yang-Na, 1984
Earth, bones, shells, plants, silver leaf, and encaustic, 99 x 198 in.

Paradisi: A Garden Mural, 1986
Encaustic, plants, and pigment, 198 x 396 in.

River Run . . . Swarded in Verdigrass, 1986
55 x 77 in.


Karen Indeck Head ShotKaren Indeck has been the curator and director of Gallery 400 and the Visiting Artists-in-Residence Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago since 1986. Indeck received a BFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Linda King Bio PicLinda King is a longtime painter and educator. Beginning her career as an assistant director of the Art Resource Center, University of Iowa (1978–80), King has gone on to serve as an assistant professor at Sangamon State University in Springfield, IL (1980–83) and as an instructor at Columbia College, Chicago (1984–87). She is currently the assistant professor of studio art at the University of Illinois at Chicago. King’s work has been included in group and solo exhibitions at institutions such as the Cedar Rapids Art Museum (1980), the Indianapolis Museum of Art (1985), and the Brooklyn Museum (1985). King received an MA from California State University (1976) and an MFA from the University of Iowa (1979).


NATURE/nature is supported by the College of Architecture, Art, and Urban Planning, University of Illinois at Chicago.


Postiglione, Corey. “Nature/nature.” Dialogue, May/June 1990.