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Exhibition at Parrish Art Museum spans Michelle Stuart's career from the 1960s to today
Michelle Stuart (American, born 1933), Water Path/Flower Mountain: Garden for the Re-birth of a Military Bunker at Fort Tilden, Breezy Point, NY, 1975–1976. Graphite and watercolour on rag paper, 24 x 36 inches. Private collection.
WATER MILL, NY.- Michelle Stuart: Drawn from Nature, an exhibition by the internationally acclaimed artist known for a rich body of work inspired by her lifelong interest in the earth and the cosmos, is on view at the Parrish Art Museum from July 21 through October 27, 2013. Since the 1960s, Michelle Stuart has produced and exhibited monumentally scaled works on paper, site-specific earth art, multimedia installations, paintings, sculpture, and photographic works, pursuing a subtle and responsive dialogue with the natural world. Stuart will conduct a guided tour of the exhibition on Friday, August 9, at 6 pm, followed by a collective conversation in the Lichtenstein Theater, facilitated by Alicia Longwell, Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Chief Curator, Art and Education.

Spanning the period from the late 1960s to the present day, Michelle Stuart: Drawn from Nature presents the artist’s radical redefinition of the medium of drawing, encompassing her pioneering range of mediums, while highlighting her early contributions to process-based sculpture and Land Art, her use of nontraditional natural materials, and her lifelong passion for photography. Among the works on view are rarely seen drawings from the late 1960s, incorporating photographs and articulating the mottled surface of the moon. These early works anticipate the monumentally scaled “scrolls” of the 1970s for which the artist became internationally known. Works such as #1 Woodstock, NY (1973) and #5 Moray Hill (1973) were made outdoors by laying rolls of paper on the ground, smashing them with rocks, stroking them with earth, or rubbing them with graphite until the characteristics of a given site became ingrained in their surfaces. A video documenting Stuart’s piece Niagara Gorge Path Relocated (1975), a 460-foot long “scroll,” cascading down a bank along the Niagara River at Artpark in Lewiston, NY, also is on view.

Other works in the exhibition push the idea of drawing beyond the page. Maps of real and imaginary landscapes form the backdrop to a selection of Stuart’s sculptural works and hand-made books, using natural materials gathered on her travels throughout the world. Nazca Lines Chart Book (1981-82) features earth collected from the Nazca Plains in Peru. Photographs and drawings relate to site works such as Stone Alignments/Solstice Cairns (1979), which still stands on the Rowena Plateau in Oregon, and Night Passage Signalling Two Suns, Noto Island, Finland (1985). Also included are works from the early 1980s made with earth and photographs taken at the village of Avebury in Wiltshire, England (best known for its Neolithic stone circles) and the Seed Calendars of the 1990s. The exhibition concludes with Stuart’s recent photographic grids composed of vintage and original images, expansive works which encapsulate the potent blend of real, imagined, and natural history that has characterized her work for over forty years.

Michelle Stuart was born in Los Angeles in 1933. Immediately after graduating from high school, she spent several months in Mexico studying archaeological ruins and murals. Upon returning to Los Angeles, she took courses at the Chouinard Art Institute and worked as a cartographic draftsperson. In the early 1950s, she returned to Mexico to attend art school but left her formal studies to work as an assistant to Diego Rivera. After living and working in Paris—primarily on paintings—she settled in New York City where she continues to live and work. She has had a home and studio on the East End in Amagansett since 1990.

Stuart has exhibited internationally for 40 years. Her work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Walker Art Center, and the Brooklyn Museum, among many others, as well as in museums in Stockholm, Marseille, The Hague, Sydney, and Hamburg.

The exhibition originated at the Djanogly Art Gallery, Lakeside Arts Center, Nottingham, UK, and was organized by Anna Lovatt, lecturer in Modern and Contemporary art history at the University of Manchester, UK, an editor of the Oxford Art Journal, and a regular contributor to Artforum International. After its tenure at the Parrish Art Museum, the exhibition will travel to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, where it will be on view from January 26–April 20, 2014.

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