Forces of Nature: Renwick Invitational 2020

October 16, 2020 - November 22, 2020 and May 14, 2021 - August 15, 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 director of curatorial affairs and strategic partnerships at the Wharton Esherick Museum in Malvern, Pennsylvania; 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.

Exhibition Catalogue

Forces of Nature: Renwick Invitational 2020

Publisher
Smithsonian American Art Museum
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.

Video

Date
  • Learn more about Forces of Nature: Renwick Invitational 2020 on view at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum from October 16, 2020 to June 27, 2021. The exhibition features artists Lauren Fensterstock, Timothy Horn, Debora Moore, and Rowland Ricketts. Each of these invited artists looks to nature as a way to contemplate 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 director of curatorial affairs and strategic partnerships at the Wharton Esherick Museum in Malvern, Pennsylvania; 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.

    NORA ATKINSON: I'm Nora Atkinson. I'm the Fleur and Charles Bresler Curator-in-Charge of the Renwick Gallery, and I am delighted to introduce you to this year's Renwick Invitational, "Forces of Nature." The Renwick Invitational is a roughly biennial series the Renwick has run since the year 2000. It's a juried exhibition, and so this year I was joined on the jury by my colleagues Stefano Catalani and Emily Zilber, and we invited Emily Zilber to be our Guest Curator for this exhibition.

    EMILY ZILBER: The current invitational brings together nature and craft in ways that not only speak to a long-standing connection between the two but how people use nature to understand our place in the order of things, especially in times of uncertainty, especially as the world may seem a little chaotic.

    NA: The four artists we selected for this year's invitational are Lauren Fensterstock, Timothy Horn, Rowland Ricketts, and Debora Moore. I think each of them really exemplifies this incredible vision of where we stand in the natural world.

    EZ: Lauren Fensterstock is represented by a room-sized installation that was commissioned specifically for this exhibition. "The totality of time lusters the dusk" is Lauren's first work to explore how weather and celestial activity can be used as a metaphor, which seems like an especially powerful idea in an age of climate change and extreme weather events.

    When you walk into Timothy Horn's gallery, you'll see two really different bodies of work from this artist, both of which are impactful, spectacular, deal with nature, and also have a really strong sense of seductive materiality to them.

    Rowland Ricketts is a fiber artist who uses dyed indigo cloth to create large-scale installations. He also farms, harvests, and processes the indigo that he uses to dye the cloth himself on his farm in Bloomington, Indiana.

    Walking into the gallery that holds Debora Moore's "Arboria," you see four immaculately crafted, evocative, glass trees. The "Arboria" series roughly correspond to the cycles of nature over the course of a year from the transition from fall, to winter, to spring, to summer.

    I hope that people leave the experience of this exhibition a little transformed, taking an experience that engages with nature and finding some resilience in it to meet the world on the other side.
    Date
  • On Wednesday, October 13, 2020, the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) presented an exhibition opening reception and program of Forces of Nature: Renwick Invitational 2020. Enjoy a preview of the artworks featured in this nature-inspired exhibition by Lauren Fensterstock, Timothy Horn, Debora Moore, and Rowland Ricketts. Learn more about each artist’s creative process and how the global pandemic has impacted their work in a virtual Q&A moderated by exhibition curator Emily Zilber.

    SAAM Stories

    Watch our Forces of Nature Virtual Program Series

    SAAM presented a virtual program series featuring artists Lauren Fensterstock, Timothy Horn, Debora Moore, and Rowland Ricketts as part of Forces of Nature: Renwick Invitational 2020. Each of these invited artists looks to nature as a way to contemplate what it means to be human in a world increasingly chaotic and divorced from our physical landscape. Enjoy programming that ranges from artist conversations with curators to workshops and studio tours. 

    Watch Now

    “Natural motifs are common in the decorative arts. But there is nothing dainty or domestic about the works on view in Forces of Nature... The four invited artists use traditional techniques to make pieces that are distinctive, timely and way too big to fit in the pantry.”

    – Mark Jenkins, The Washington Post

     

    Meet the Artists

    Credits

    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, Ed and Kathy Fries, Cary J. Frieze, Bannus and Cecily Hudson, James Renwick Alliance, Klorfine Foundation, Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, Eleanor T. Rosenfeld, Myra and Harold Weiss, and In-kind support has been provided by the Tokushima Prefectural Office.