Alan Sonfist: Circle of Life, Revisited

11/10/2000 - 12/01/2000
Alan Sonfist: Circle of Life, Revisited

The Artspace presents Alan Sonfist: Circle of Life, Revisited in conjunction with the exhibition, Tempus Fugit: Time Flies at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Located in the Project Room at the Artspace, Circle of Life, Revisited presents a selection of photographs documenting the evolution of this unique environmental sculpture, located on the main campus of the Kansas City Art Institute.

In celebration of the centennial anniversary of the Kansas City Art Institute in 1985, New York artist, Alan Sonfist, was commissioned to create a commemorative sculpture for the college.  Sited and installed at the main entrance of the college, Alan Sonfist: Circle of Life (1985 – 2085) is a metaphorical work that addresses the passage of time through referencing the natural past of the land, present conditions and the future.  The sculpture is composed of an outer ring of indigenous trees of Missouri and Kansas that thrive today, with good potential for continued sustenance into the future.  The trees, including varieties of Oak, Hickory and Redbud, enclose an inner circle of earth originally planted with prairie grasses.  As the trees grew over the years, they slowly overtook the prairie, a natural process predicted by Sonfist at the project’s inception.  The central element is a columnar sculpture of bronzed limbs from endangered or extinct trees of the area, rising as a monument to the past when abundant forest covered the majority of the region.  Over the next century, the forest will engulf the sculpture.  In Sonfist’s words: “The future will outgrow the past.”

Sonfist emerged as an artist in the late 1960’s.  His various approaches associated him with numerous art movements of the time, including Minimalism, Conceptualism, Process, Earth and Body Art. He is most recognized for his time landscapes like Circle of Life, which engage divergent sensibilities concerning the passage of time, the environment, ecology, history and the public.  Through his various Land Art installations in the United States and abroad, Sonfist consistently addresses the depletion of nature, with an intention of informing the public of the past, as well as prompting questions concerning our ecological future.

Alan Sonfist: Circle of Life was curated by Heather Lustfeldt, Curatorial Assistant at the H&R Block Artspace at the Kansas City Art Institute.

Circle of Life was made possible by grants from the Linclay Corporation, developers of One Main Plaza, and the Contemporary Art Society of Kansas City.