New YorkTerry Evans: Ancient Prairies
Yancey Richardson presents Ancient Prairies, an exhibition of new photographs by Chicago-based artist Terry Evans. Marking her fourth exhibition at the gallery, Evans expands on her decades-long connection with the prairie as the spiritual center of her work. Through the creation of photographic mosaics of these ecosystems, Evans explores the hidden complexity of the American prairie, while also paying tribute to the kinship between humans and nature.
Since 1978, Evans’ work has been connected by an abiding interest and love for the prairie in her native Kansas. From detailed studies of intricate botanical life to her series of aerial photographs in Inhabited Prairie, Evans’ investigations into the prairie bear the markings of contradictions, mysteries and beauty. The series Ancient Prairies is the result of her intimate understanding of this particular landscape, and marks a significant new step in her artistic process. Each image is a composite of dozens of individual images of the same place, although from different perspectives and across varying conditions and times of day. The resulting images are dynamic studies of place and time, imbued with a Cubist-like sense of visual connections and interruptions, and ultimately forming a cohesive whole. A single tree branch shifts through multiple viewpoints, areas of foliage and grasses are disrupted with overlapping images of alternating proportions and levels of detail, and the night sky is portrayed as a patchwork of rectilinear violet hues, resembling pixels on a computer screen.
As a complement to the panoramic distance and complexity of the work in Ancient Prairies, on view in the project gallery are Evans’ Prairie Specimens. These works, taken in the archives of the Field Museum in Chicago and the Smithsonian Museum, are themselves a study into the act of collecting, cataloging and classification of preserved botanical specimens. Photographing flowers, dried leaves, and even the original, accompanying hand-written labels often over a hundred years old, these highly detailed works convey a tactile and physical quality which offers the viewer something close to Evans’ own experience of seeing them. They are indeed rich in detail, the aged and yellowed paper, the romance of the late-nineteenth century script, the pieces of tape keeping the specimen affixed to the paper, and the rich materiality of the flora transmit an alluring feeling of history, exploration and the never-ending pursuit to understand our natural world.
Terry Evans (b. 1944) has exhibited widely, including solo shows at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Amon Carter Museum, Ft. Worth, the Field Museum, Chicago, and the Nevada Museum of Art. She is a Guggenheim Fellow and a recipient of an Anonymous Was a Woman award. Several books have been published on her work including Prairie: Images of Ground and Sky, The Inhabited Prairie, Disarming the Prairie and Heartland. Her work is in major museum collections including the Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Modern Art, N.Y., San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, Corcoran Gallery of Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Photography, among many others.
all images © the gallery and the artist(s)