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Fujiko Nakaya creates new signature 'fog sculptures' for Boston's largest park system
Rendering - Fog x Canopy, tree fog on Clemente Field Path, Back Bay Fens, Boston, MA. Courtesy Fujiko Nakaya / Processart Inc.

BOSTON, MASS.- To mark the Emerald Necklace Conservancy’s 20th Anniversary year, the Conservancy will undertake three major initiatives to engage communities and increase visibility for Boston’s largest park system. The first will be to attract new visitors with a summer exhibition of “climate responsive” art. Fog x FLO: Fujiko Nakaya on the Emerald Necklace will debut for the city the internationally renowned “fog sculptures” of Fujiko Nakaya (b. 1933), created in response to the landmarked landscapes designed by Frederick Law Olmsted (FLO). The Conservancy will also develop and pilot new way-finding approaches to orient park visitors along the exhibition sites in the Emerald Necklace and will research, design, and install new educational and interpretive displays in the Emerald Necklace Conservancy’s Shattuck Visitor Center at 125 The Fenway.

Free and open to the public from August 11 to October 31, 2018, the immersive art exhibition will be the first simultaneous presentation of multiple works by Nakaya in her five-decade career. Organized by Boston-based guest curator Jen Mergel, this presentation of shape-shifting installations of pure water vapor will engage visitors with “climate responsive” systems as timeless and timely as their sites – the Emerald Necklace parks designed by Frederick Law Olmsted (18221903). The exhibition is anticipated to draw up to 1 million visitors during its twelve weeks on view.

Nakaya’s installations will be timed to activate from dawn to dusk, emitting fog that rhythmically appear and dissipate in shifting air and natural light, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in a familiar, yet awe-inspiring experience. Just as Olmsted’s vanguard landscape and water engineering may at first appear like nature untouched, Nakaya’s rigorous planning yields artful outcomes that appear spontaneous, which she describes as “a conversation with nature” that aims to enhance and reinforce, rather than distract from, the works’ natural settings.

“Considered by some to be Boston’s largest immersive art installation in itself, the Emerald Necklace is the city’s most extensive chain of parks, connecting residents to their environment, neighborhoods, and each other for more than a century,” said Karen Mauney-Brodek, President of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy. “We want this project to reinforce our goals and spark greater engagement while raising awareness and re-introducing locals and visitors to Frederick Law Olmsted’s design, encouraging new interactions with nature, and fostering an appreciation of this extraordinary natural, recreational and cultural resource.”

The following locations have been selected by Nakaya for her site-specific works:

• The Fens ─ in the canopy of a tree-lined path, in close proximity to the Museum of Fine Arts, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and the Emerald Necklace Conservancy’s Shattuck Visitor Center;

• Olmsted Park ─ on an island of Leverett Pond at the edge of Allerton Overlook in Brookline;

• Jamaica Pond ─ as a “cloud pond” in a glacial depression adjacent to the kettle pond;

• Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University ─ a “fog fall” rolling down a hill under tree cover;

• Franklin Park ─ amid the Overlook Shelter Ruins, echoing the domed roof of one of the few buildings Olmsted had a hand in designing.

Nakaya considers fog “the most generous of mediums” and has a long history of collaborating with musicians, dancers, light and performance artists and more. To activate the fog sculptures as “fog performances,” the Conservancy will open a citywide request for proposals to develop related programming, to be presented at Nakaya’s fog installations during the exhibition. Invitations will extend across neighborhoods and organizational scales and affiliations—from independent artists and grass roots performance groups to academic and institutional art partners—to engage connections as broadly as possible. With dynamic fog as both setting and inspiration, Nakaya’s art in Olmsted’s parks will become a highly visible platform for Boston artists of diverse fields to experiment, create, and debut their own original public art across the city. New works are already in development by partners including the Berklee Interdisciplinary Arts Institute, the Huntington Theatre Company, and Beau Kenyon, 2016-17 Composer in Residence at the Boston Public Library.

Building on the Necklace-wide exhibition, way-finding and interpretive approaches to navigating and understanding the Emerald Necklace parks will be piloted during the temporary installations. The way-finding pilot will test formats that are visual, physical, and digital to serve a range of park users. In addition, working with an educational advisory group, the Emerald Necklace Conservancy’s Shattuck Visitor Center will rededicate spaces to offer more than 1,000 square feet of gallery displays, an information area, and a convertible programming and meeting space so that visitors can learn about and take pride in the history of the Emerald Necklace.

“While our organization is relatively young compared to the nearly 150-year-old parks that we support, we are incredibly excited to celebrate our anniversary in such a mission-driven and engaging way,” said Board Chair Benjamin Taylor. “The goal of this exhibition is to build visibility, understanding, and appreciation of the important role the Emerald Necklace parks play and the way Olmsted intended—as a vital connector, flood protector, and cultural convener, for our city and neighborhoods, from Dorchester and Roxbury through Jamaica Plain, Longwood, the Fenway, and Back Bay.”

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