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Vibrant Room-Sized Installations Turn Smithsonian Gallery into a Larger-Than-Life Work of Art

After a two-year renovation, the Renwick Gallery at the Smithsonian American Art Museum has reopened its doors with an enthralling exhibition titled WONDER. It unites nine contemporary artists who have each produced room-sized installations inspired by the Renwick itself. Together, these individual pieces transform the building into an eclectic, larger-than-life work of art.

WONDER features the work of renowned artists Jennifer Angus, Chakaia Booker, Gabriel Dawe, Tara Donovan, Patrick Dougherty, Janet Echelman, John Grade, Maya Lin, and Leo Villareal. Although they each utilize different materials and processes, the works have the same conceptual basis–they're constructed with things that are often ignored in art making–index cards, marbles, bugs, and discarded rubber tires are just some of what comprises these awe-inspiring installations.

Tara Donovan's Untitled uses toothpicks, straws, and styrofoam cups to form an ethereal mountain landscape. John Grade also reconstructs a nature-inspired scene for his piece titled Middle Fork. Here, he casted a tree and rebuilt its form from 500,000 segments of reclaimed cedar. Conversely, Jennifer Angus doesn't reimagine the natural world, but instead brings it into the gallery. For In the Midnight Garden, she collected over 5,000 real insects from Southeast Asia to create an exquisitely-patterned wallpaper in a bright pink room.

If you're local to the Washington, DC area, check out WONDER until July 10, 2016.

Above: Gabriel Dawe, Plexus A1

Janet Echelman, 1.8

Janet Echelman, 1.8 (detail)

Maya Lin, Folding the Chesapeake

Tara Donovan, Untitled

Tara Donovan, Untitled (detail)

Leo Villareal, Volume (Renwick)

Patrick Dougherty, Shindig

John Grade, Middle Fork (photo credit: Ron Blunt)

John Grade, Middle Fork (photo credit: Ron Blunt)


Jennifer Angus, In the Midnight Garden (photo credit: Ron Blunt)

Jennifer Angus, In the Midnight Garden (detail) (photo credit: Ron Blunt)

Renwick Gallery: Website
via [Colossal]

Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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