About the Exhibition
Everyday Eden features 2 new commissions and 3 recent works by Jedediah Caeser, Tony Feher, Rob Fischer, Paula Hayes, and Nina Katchadourian. In a variety of ways, these artists’ works intersect with the vocabulary surrounding today’s growing interest in ecological concerns, including natural settings, constructed landscapes, decay, recycling, and preservation. Chosen with the specific conditions of the MetroTech Center in mind, the artists respond to the site as a densely populated public space comprised of both urban and natural conditions. By seeking beauty in the everyday and manifesting it in their works, these artists illuminate that which might otherwise go unnoticed. Their Eden is not necessarily a “green” one, but it is utterly relevant, present, and livable.
Jedediah Caesar, Redwood
Jedediah Caesar’s work involves collecting materials—everything from studio scraps to grass, from lemon rinds to an easy chair—to form assemblages bound together with resin. The resulting sculptures hover between geology and artifice. Caesar (b.1973, Oakland, CA) employs different processes to create his pieces: some contain a minimal amount of intervention so that the individual parts remain intact and identifiable, while others become dense resin chunks that fully encase the everyday objects within. The results are monuments of daily matter that are reused, reconfigured, and preserved in artful aggregates. Redwood, which appears in the lobby of One MetroTech Center, is a three-part piece formed from two kinds of wood: driftwood collected on the beaches of Los Angeles and scraps discarded from a furniture factory. In both cases the forms have been impacted by their immersion in a medium—one cultural (the factory) and the other organic (the ocean)—and then are embedded or suspended in resin to create a hybrid form.
Tony Feher, A little bird told me.
Tony Feher (b.1956, Albuquerque, NM) uses common, functional materials to create his works of art, drawing our attention to what he calls the “trick” in the material that sets it off or makes it noticeable. His signature elements have included an array of objects such as filled or partially filled plastic water bottles, tape, ropes, tacks, plastic bags, and plastic crates. Rather than adding more objects to the world, he makes art from what already exists. Feher carefully collects, sifts through and uncovers specific examples of his chosen materials, selecting items with the right color, shape and texture. Primary colors and geometric forms arranged in repetitive patterns dominate his work, but equally important to the artist is the site in which it appears: he typically plays off a given space and location, integrating his work into the existing landscape and using the setting to his advantage. In this new commission in the MetroTech Commons, Feher hangs groups of plastic bottles partially filled with pink liquid in seven trees in the park’s central triangular grove. Placed ten to fifteen feet above the ground in the forks of the trees, the groupings are like jeweled nests that catch the light and create a glowing presence in the landscape.
Rob Fischer, As Above, So Below
As Above, So Below is a new commission by Rob Fischer (Minneapolis, MN) that utilizes one of his preferred materials—a standard industrial trash dumpster—as its starting point. The artist transforms this ubiquitous element of everyday urban life in a number of ways. It is presented standing erect, giving it an architectural quality that elevates it to a seemingly higher cultural status, and calls to mind art historical notions of entropy and excavation. Into the side of the dumpster he cuts a “door”—another architectural reference through which the public can pass. Fischer further changes its “skin” from solid to semi-transparent by replacing its “panes” with stained glass. The dumpster creates a structure or housing for the windows, which were reclaimed from a 1940s church and recycled into the piece as abstract colors, geometric shapes and words, and arranged in patterns devised by the artist.
Paula Hayes, Medium Classic Soft Case Custom Silicone Planter in Crocus and Tray in Cherry Blossom; Large Eccentric Silicone Planter in Crocus and Tray in Blossom
Paula Hayes (b. 1958, Concord, MA) is inspired by the natural world. She typically incorporates plants and other living elements into her work—something she has referred to as “ikebana with domestic items,” referencing the term for Japanese flower arrangement. She has made terrariums, planters, and birdhouses, all of which form organic, living sculptures and ecological environments. Her signature planters are biomorphically shaped containers molded from silicone or polyurethane that hold plants and trees. Like much art that deals with issues of the human and natural environment, Hayes reminds the viewer that art need not be merely an object, but rather may require the viewer’s interaction and even care. Hayes strives to preserve and nurture her environments, offering a hopeful outlook for the future of the larger world. For Everyday Eden, she sites two silicone containers in the lobby of One MetroTech Center and fills them with tropical, colorful plants. The result is a magical combination of abstract and natural forms.
Nina Katchadourian, Please, Please, Pleased to Meet’cha
Please, Please, Pleased to Meet’cha by Nina Katchadourian (b.1968, Stanford, CA) is a sound project inspired by the elusive task of describing birdsong. It was originally installed at Wave Hill in the Bronx in 2006. For the installation at MetroTech, the artist has placed six sound systems along the park’s central corridor. As people pass through this urban park, they hear recordings of human voices in the trees, vocalizing birdsong. Because the human attempt to describe birdsong is a kind of translation problem—from aural to written, from animal to human sound—the artist asked UN translators and interpreters to interpret the sounds. None of the people involved in the project had previously heard the particular birds, so their performances were instantaneous interpretations rather than studied vocal translations. Suggesting that human communication might have the innate ability to cross linguistic (and even species) boundaries, this work resonates within the specific urban population of Brooklyn and spreads out to include its ecological surroundings. The birds in the project are all native to New York City and include the Chestnut-sided Warbler, White-Throated Sparrow, Grey Catbird, Red-Winged Blackbird, Black-Capped Chickadee, and Common Grackle.