UW Madison MFA candidate Hannah O'Hare Bennett presents Domestication Syndrome: An Evolving Story. In the intimacy of a small household object (a comb, for instance), the story of how it arrived in existence is not immediately evident. How is it that human beings came to live the way that we do—what made it so that we could weave complex cloth, or make intricate pottery, or invent a written language, never mind come up with factories and computers? She is always thinking of the origins of things.
Last year, she learned about the domestication syndrome, the suite of traits that plants and animals develop as they are domesticated. Seed coats become thinner and softer, fruits and grains bigger and easier to harvest, animal fur changes color or becomes softer. She began to relate these traits to the domestic arts, those activities dedicated to making a comfortable, beautiful home. In fact, our thoroughly domesticated lives would not be possible without the plants and animals we changed with our interactions with them—they gave us agriculture, and with agriculture, the possibility of time to dedicate to activities besides food gathering.
Now, in this work, she imagines a further evolution, a re-wilding of sewing tools, books, grids and opposable thumbs. Think of these objects as words, sentences and paragraphs adding up to a story about a small section of time held captive briefly before evolution takes effect again.
An opening reception will be held Saturday, March 11, 2017, 7-9pm. The exhibition is on view March 11 through April 1, 2017.