Forces of Nature: Renwick Invitational 2020” Introduction

  • 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.