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In and Around the Garden: Perspectives East and West on View at The Ackland Art Museum
Catherine Chalmers: Safari from American Cockroach, 2006; video still. Courtesy of the artist.
CHAPEL HILL, N.C.- A deep appreciation for the cultivated earth has been central to human culture for millennia. In and Around the Garden: Perspectives East and West gives visitors the unique opportunity to experience this profound relationship through a multitude of perspectives that span time, genre, and geography. The exhibition explores a sequence of garden-centered themes - from the scientific to the spiritual - in a rich variety of works, the majority of which are drawn from the Ackland Collection.

The animals that make the garden space their habitat provide artists with a limitless repertory of images, including Pablo Picasso's Toad, Fukae Roshu's poetic Japanese scroll of Autumn Flowers with Deer, and one of the exhibition's most striking works, Catherine Chalmers' 2006 video Safari, which follows a dramatic sequence of insect life found within aquariums constructed in the artist's own apartment.

While the garden as an entity is more than the sum of its parts, some of the artists in the exhibition focus on single specimens, as seen in Imogen Cunningham's photographic scrutiny of Calla Lily Leaves or Claes Oldenburg's lyrical Apple Core. Other artists reflect the significance of the garden as a site for human activity, from labor to love, setting the stage for Nicolas Lancret's eighteenth-century painting Dance in a Garden or the Indian miniature painting Krishna and the Gopi Girls.

Images of floral arrangements and bouquets (including William Eggleston's Still Life and the watercolor Still Life with Vase from the Circle of Jan van Os) represent the ways people bring the garden indoors, and several actual vases will be on display, including one by Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Works ranging from an eighteenth-century Indian Mughal prayer mat to the twentieth-century folk art of North Carolina's Minnie Evens explore the garden's role as a sacred space for religious traditions. Fantasy permeates many other pieces, including Chiho Aoshima's 2005 City Glow, while contemporary interpretations by Lothar Baumgarten and Athena Tacha investigate the ramifications of human development on the natural world.

Grant Wood, Edward Weston, Yun Bing, Allart van Everdingen, and Jack Youngerman are among the many other artists included in the exhibition. Juxtaposing works of art from a broad range of geographic regions and time periods, In and Around the Garden calls attention the unique styles developed through the centuries to represent and interpret garden imagery.

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