Forces of Nature: Renwick Invitational 2020

July 17, 2020 – February 7, 2021

Renwick Gallery (Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street NW)
abstract shapes painted in silver with seven silver ornaments.

Timothy Horn, Tree of Heaven 7, 2016, nickel-plated bronze and mirrored blown glass, Courtesy of the artist

Forces of Nature: Renwick Invitational 2020 features artists Lauren Fensterstock, Timothy Horn, Debora Moore, and Rowland Ricketts. Nature provides a way for these invited artists to ask what it means to be human in a world increasingly chaotic and divorced from our physical landscape. Representing craft media from fiber to mosaic to glass and metals, these artists approach the long history of art’s engagement with the natural world through unconventional and highly personal perspectives.

Forces of Nature: Renwick Invitational 2020 is the ninth installment of the Renwick Invitational. Established in 2000, this biennial showcase highlights midcareer and emerging makers who are deserving of wider national recognition. 

The four featured artists were selected by a panel of distinguished jurors, each with a wide knowledge of contemporary American makers. The panel included Emily Zilber, independent curator and former curator of contemporary decorative arts at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Nora Atkinson, the Fleur and Charles Bresler Curator-in-Charge for the Renwick Gallery; and Stefano Catalani, executive director of the Gage Academy of Art in Seattle. Emily Zilber is organizing the exhibition.

Lauren Fensterstock (b. 1975, resides Portland, Maine) creates detailed, large-scale installations using labor-intensive modes of making drawn from the decorative arts, including paper quilling and mosaic. For this exhibition, SAAM has commissioned a site-specific work—the first in a new series for the artist inspired by sources like The Book of Miracles, a richly illustrated sixteenth-century German manuscript—that will transform an entire gallery at the Renwick into a celestial landscape that captures the power and awe inherent in natural phenomena.

Timothy Horn (b. 1964, resides Provincetown, Massachusetts) creates exaggerated adornments that combine natural and constructed worlds, taking inspiration from objects as varied as seventeenth-century jewelry patterns and nineteenth-century studies of lichen, coral, and seaweed. He works with traditional materials, such as bronze and glass, as well as surprising ones, like crystalized rock sugar, which refers to the extravagant Amber Room of Russian Empress Catherine the Great.

Debora Moore (b. 1960, resides Seattle) is best known for her exquisitely detailed glass renderings of orchids, to which she devoted her practice from the mid-1990s until recently. In her new tour de force series, Arboria (2018), featured in this exhibition, Moore has branched out from the orchid to focus on four life-size flowering trees of different varieties: cherry, magnolia, winter plum, and wisteria. Moore’s work presents a new chapter in the long history of representing plants in glass, which ranges from ancient renderings to nineteenth-century models used for scientific study. For Moore, she focuses less on realism and more on capturing an intensely personal experience of beauty and wonder.

Rowland Ricketts (b. 1971, resides Bloomington, Indiana) creates immersive installations using handwoven and hand-dyed cloth. His holistic artistic practice begins on his farm, where he cultivates the indigo plants he uses to color his artwork, fully linking his material and process with the finished product. Ricketts often incorporates participatory engagement from non-artists, emphasizing the relationship between nature, culture, the passage of time, and everyday life.

Book

An accompanying catalogue will feature essays by Nora Atkinson, the Fleur and Charles Bresler Curator-in-Charge for the Renwick Gallery; Stefano Catalani, executive director of the Gage Academy of Art in Seattle; and Emily Zilber, independent curator and former curator of contemporary decorative arts at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Credit

The Ryna and Melvin Cohen Family Foundation Endowment provides support for the Renwick Invitational. The Cohen Family’s generosity in creating this endowment makes possible this biennial series highlighting outstanding craft artists who are deserving of wider national recognition. Additional support has been provided by the Carolyn Small Alper Exhibitions Fund, Cary J. Frieze, Klorfine Foundation, and Eleanor T. Rosenfeld.