09/20/2003 - 10/29/2003

UnNaturally features work by fifteen international artists who employ artificial materials to create simulations of nature. By exploring the ways in which the boundaries between nature and culture are sometimes blurred, the artists raised provocative questions about our mediated environment. With its studied verisimilitude and occasional deadpan use of irony, the work seemed to suggest that the natural world can be reproduced with man-made materials just like any other mass-produced commercial product.

The photographs in the exhibition often features elaborately constructed scenes that imitate natural settings. They challenge viewers to carefully inspect the content for signs of intervention or manipulation and thus question their own perception of reality.

Some of the sculptures resemble completely convincing fake natural settings and have been created with the use of steel, epoxy, plaster, foam, polymer, and other non-traditional materials. In other cases, the sculptures are blatantly artificial and borrow from popular culture and theme-park kitsch.

The exhibition also includes a sound piece, a subtle critique of New Age sound tracks piped through shopping malls that often simulate rainstorms, breaking waves, or wind blowing. In this case, the artist began with the sound of a gunshot he recorded in the inner city, which he then digitally remastered to achieve a soothing ambient, “natural” noise.

UnNaturally brought together work that evokes a sense of awe and confusion about the environment in which we live and the complex world of artifice. Collectively, the work provides pointed commentary on the increased attention our culture pays to the issue of real versus fake. The artists in the exhibition—with their often satirical critiques of urban society’s removal from the natural environment—invited viewers to take part in a thoughtful examination of the relationship between the artificial and the natural in our lives.

UnNaturally is a traveling exhibition organized and circulated by Independent Curators International (ICI), New York. The exhibition was curated by Mary-Kay Lombino. The exhibition, tour, and catalogue were made possible, in part, by grants from the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation and Philip Morris Companies Inc.

UnNaturally, a traveling exhibition curated by Mary-Kay Lombino, was presented by Independent Curators International, New York, and includes a catalogue with an essay by Lombino.

Featured artists are: Chris Astley; Gregory Crewdson; Jacci Den Hartog; Allan deSouza; Keith Edmier; Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle; Jason Middlebrook; Nicoletta Munroe; Roxy Paine; Michael Pierzynski; Marc Quinn; Michelle Segre; Alyson Shotz; Frances Whitehead; and Clara Williams.

For generous support of the 2003-2004 exhibition series at the Artspace, the Kansas City Art Institute gratefully acknowledges the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency, and the H&R Block Foundation.


The Kansas City Star

Other Nature
October 24, 2003
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H&R Block Artspace: UnNaturally
September 1, 2003
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Press Release

The exhibition, UnNaturally, opens at the H&R Block Artspace at KCAI
August 18, 2003
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