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Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art Debuts Two New Summer Exhibitions: Nature’s Nation and Color

Bentonville, Ark. – Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art presents Nature’s Nation: American Art and Environment on view May 25 to September 9, 2019 and Color Field on view June 1 to September 30, 2019.

Summer exhibitions tickets include Nature’s Nation and Color Field and are $16 between June 1 and September 9. Nature’s Nation tickets will be $12 from May 25-31, and Color Field tickets will be $12 from September 11-30. Both exhibitions are free for members, youth ages 18 and under, and veterans. To see a complete list of summer offerings, visit the website here.

May 25 to September 9, 2019

Nature’s Nation: American Art and Environment is a new exhibition developed by Princeton University Art Museum that examines American artists’ impact on shaping environmental understanding. The exhibition was co-curated by Karl Kusserow, John Wilmerding Curator of American Art at the Princeton University of Art Museum, and Alan C. Braddock, Ralph H. Wark Associate Professor of Art History & American Studies, William & Mary. Featuring 100 artworks from 70 eminent US collections, and including masterworks of American art, this exhibition traces 300 years of evolving ideas about the natural world and our place within it. The paintings, photographs, sculptures, video, and Indigenous art in this exhibition compel us to consider our relationship to the environment and the human impact on the planet.

“Artists can truly help us reimagine our understanding of nature. Artists have long been inspired by nature and have used their art as a platform to call for preservation and bring awareness to environmental conditions,” said Mindy Besaw, curator at Crystal Bridges.

“This exhibition is timely. Given the current global environmental challenges facing our planet, artists prompt us to consider what comes next. We hope that visitors will walk away with a deeper understanding of their relationship with nature and a desire to be stewards of our world.”

The exhibition is organized into three sections, unfolds in chronological order, and reflects changing attitudes toward the environment:

  • Artworks in the first section, The Order of Things, start in the 1700s and span into the early 1800s. This section reflects our early understanding of nature, placing humans at the top of the pyramid of life. Special topics in this section will explore Extinction, Portraiture, and Landscapes.

  • In the second section, Visualizing Human Impact, artists address far-reaching environmental consequences of settlement, industry, war, and urbanization with artwork from the mid-nineteenth through early twentieth centuries. Special topics include Urban Environments and the Buffalo as a Disappearing Icon.

  • The third section, Nature’s Vital Forms, features artwork from the twentieth century to today. The artists featured here use bold colors and abstract shapes to underscore the human role in nature as an issue of urgent practical, ethical, and visual concern.

Artists featured in this exhibition include Albert Bierstadt, Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles Willson Peale, Thomas Moran, Dorothea Lange, John James Audubon, Ansel Adams, Alexis Rockman, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Valerie Hegarty, Walton Ford, Ana Mendieta, Postcommodity, and more. Several Indigenous artists who were featured in Crystal Bridges’ 2018 exhibition Art for a New Understanding: Native Voices, 1950s to Now are also featured in Nature’s Nation, including Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Kent Monkman, and Cannupa Hanska Luger.

Nature's Nation was on view at Princeton University Art Museum from October 13, 2018-January 6, 2019. It then traveled to the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA (from February 2-May 5, 2019) and will conclude its tour at Crystal Bridges.

Color Field June 1 to September 30, 2019

Color Field is an outdoor sculpture exhibition developed by Crystal Bridges associate curator of contemporary art Allison Glenn, featuring artists that employ lush colors and enlarged forms against the backdrop of the museum’s North Forest and select locations in the museum. Artists featured in the exhibition include Claire Helen Ashley, Sarah Braman, Jeffie Brewer, Assaf Evron, Sam Falls, Spencer Finch, TYPOE, Odili Donald Odita, Amanda Ross-Ho, and Jessica Stockholder.

Color Field invites visitors to interact with several of the sculptures. Sam Falls’s Untitled (Wind Chimes) consists of large, colorful chimes that visitors can move to activate sound. Odili Donald Odita is debuting a new work created specifically for this exhibition, calledNegative Space, which consists of an installation of 13 flags on 20-foot flag poles, installed over a path so that visitors can walk underneath them. The design of the flags includes colors of the American flag, juxtaposed with the complementary colors of green, orange, and black.

In addition to the North Forest, Color Field artworks will be found in other locations around the museum. Assaf Evron’s Untitled (Backdrop for the Neubauer Collegium) will greet museum visitors in the main lobby courtyard. Claire Helen Ashley’s large, inflatable sculptures that invite viewers to gently touch them will be located in the Contemporary Art Gallery Courtyard and a corresponding corridor.

The exhibition’s title is a reference to color field painting, a mid-twentieth century form of abstraction that relies heavily on color and surfaces devoid of representation. There are several examples of this painting style that can be found in Crystal Bridges’ permanent collection including artworks by Helen Frankenthaler, Morris Louis, Mark Rothko, Alma Thomas, James Turrell, Donald Judd, and more.

“Color Field embraces the intersection of art, architecture, and nature, inviting visitors to engage with outdoor sculpture in a new and exciting ways,” said Allison Glenn, Crystal Bridges associate curator of contemporary art. “This exhibition will also connect with works in our permanent collection, allowing visitors to dynamically learn about color field painting and color theory across the museum campus.”

The museum also offers exhibition elements, resources, and activities designed to provide access to engaging art experiences.

Nature’s Nation:

  • Artwork in Main Lobby (above): One of the artworks from Nature’s Nation will greet museum visitors in the main lobby. This artwork is a bright-yellow weather balloon titled N13: 31⁰20'50.88"N; 109⁰29'47.62"W, from Repellent Fence, an installation by the artist collective Postcommodity. The artists installed 24 of these across the United States-Mexico border in 2015 to comment on political boundaries and their environmental effects within the same terrain.

  • Material Focus Interpretives: Interactive panels, which include items that engage the senses, can be found in the exhibition. These panels focus on marble, silver, and turpentine, and examine the environmental impact of an artist’s choice of medium.

  • Family Guide: is available to use in the exhibition through pick-up and drop-off locations in the first and last sections. The guide offers discussion prompts and further examination of key themes and artworks that are suitable for families.

  • Ecology of an Exhibition: is a website, initially created by Princeton (the exhibition’s organizing institution), that allows visitors to see the environmental effects of staging a large exhibition. It has been updated to reflect information about Crystal Bridges. The website will be displayed on a touch screen in the gallery.

  • Reflection Area: a graphically-designed wall that offers visitors ways to take action on behalf of nature and the environment, featuring expertise from local people and organizations. Visitors are prompted to read the wall, find an issue that inspires them, and write a pledge on a chalk board on an adjacent wall. They can take a photo of this pledge and post it to social media with the hashtag #CBNaturesNation.

  • Catalog: A full-color catalog published by Princeton University Art Museum and distributed by Yale University Press accompanies the exhibition and offers the first broad ecocritical review of American art and examines the environmental contexts of practice from the colonial period to the present day. The catalog is also the 2019 Winner of the PROSE award by the Association of American Publishers in the Art Exhibitions category and the recipient of an Award of Excellence from the Association of Art Museum Curators.

Color Field:

Soundscapes: Arkansas-based composer Amos Cochran has created two companion soundscapes for Color Field. The works are meant to be listened to while walking through the exhibition and offer an additional layer of engagement with the artworks. Color Field Inside / Out is intended to start in the museum, whileColor Field Outside / In starts in the North Forest. They are the same sounds presented in opposite order. Visitors can access the soundscapes by going or downloading the museum apps, CB Outdoors and CB Museum, on their personal devices.

Color Blind Glasses: Just in time for the opening of Color Field, Crystal Bridges received 60 pairs of Color Blind glasses and is providing them in an effort to increase museum accessibility for our guests who are colorblind. The glasses were made by EnChroma and were given to Crystal Bridges thanks to support from Neff and Scarlett Basore. Glasses will be available for check-out at the front desk beginning June 1.​

Throughout the duration of the exhibition, Crystal Bridges is offering a full roster of programs inspired by both shows, including several Spotlight Talks and panel discussions with artists from both shows. For additional information click here

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