On The Nature of Things

On The Nature of Things features artists Rina Yoon and Marsha McDonald, whose work examines humanity’s relationship with the natural world.

The title is a nod to a philosophy that has emerged across cultures, that we are all made of the same atoms, atoms that philosophy describes as infinite in scale and indivisible.

The philosopher Lucretius wrote the poem, De rerum natura (translated as On the Nature of Things), which challenged the belief that gods controlled human fate. It did not challenge the existence of gods, but the notion that people should fear gods. It takes the future of humans out of the hands of the Fates, placing that future in humanity’s own hands. De rerum natura is just one exploration of an idea that has emerged across civilizations, one that reconnects us with a sense of place within the natural world when systems go out of balance.

In her prints and paper coil installations, Rina Yoon overlays the textures of earth and water on the human figure. She explores a concept known as inyeon, which from Korean, translates to “cause/effect.” Inyeon explores the relationship between internal and external influences.. She likens the human body to a seed that contains everything it needs to grow, while also being dependent upon the soil to reach its potential. She likens human veins to waterways, channels for delivering energy to flesh and soil alike.

Marsha McDonald lives between Wisconsin and Tokyo. She uses photography to connect different homes, taking a micro-focus on details surrounding her: Japanese canals and streams near her apartment(s) in Tokyo and a river near her studio in Wisconsin; images of household items recreated as prayer flags. McDonald writes, “The substance of a thing is never far from the emotions and thoughts it evokes...Objects as spirit, memory, and reflection—[this] is what I’d like to explore.”

The purpose of this work is not to celebrate for the philosophy behind The Nature of Things. It is not to turn nature into a deity. The purpose, instead, is to deeply question, meditate, and relate to what we see. It is to connect the similarity of one river to the next. It is to overlap the health of the human body with the flow of water.

If we can see the natural world in ourselves, perhaps we can see it not as holy or otherworldly, but as familiar, flawed, diverse, and human. And as humans, perhaps we can also mature how we understand our role in determining what is humane.

This exhibition is curated by Jenie Gao.

On the Nature of Things: Special Reading and Artists’ Talks: September 9, 2017, 6-7 pm
On the Nature of Things, Opening Reception: September 9, 2017, 7-9 pm

Rina Yoon Milwaukee Wisconsin printmaker

Rina Yoon is a Korean-born print artist and a professor of printmaking at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, Wisconsin where she has been teaching printmaking since 1999. Yoon received B.F.A in studio art from the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and M.F.A in printmaking from the Washington University in St. Louis, MO. Over the past 20 years, Yoon has focused on non-traditional printmaking methods in her work including large scale prints, installations, combining video and sculptural elements with printmaking. Rina Yoon’s work has been exhibited widely in the United States, South Korea, Poland, India and Italy. Her recent exhibitions includes:  Mulgil: Waterway, Greymatter Gallery, Milwaukee, WI, Transplant Eyes, Instinct Art Gallery, Minneapolis, MN, Between In and Yeon, James Watrous Gallery, Madison, WI, The New Hanji: Traditional Korean Paper Re-Imagined, The Villa Terrace Decorative Art Museum, Milwaukee, A Survey: Contemporary Printmaking and Book Art,... Read More

Marsha McDonald Wisconsin artist

Marsha McDonald lives between Wisconsin and Tokyo. She uses photography to connect different homes, taking a micro-focus on details surrounding her: Japanese canals and streams near her apartment(s) in Tokyo and a river near her studio in Wisconsin; images of household items recreated as prayer flags. McDonald writes, “The substance of a thing is never far from the emotions and thoughts it evokes...Objects as spirit, memory, and reflection—[this] is what I’d like to explore.”

 

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Arts + Literature Laboratory is located in Madison’s Schenk-Atwood neighborhood at 2021 Winnebago Street, Madison, Wisconsin 53704.

Summer gallery hours are Wednesday-Friday 12-5pm and Saturday 11am-3pm during exhibitions or by appointment. Please check the exhibitions calendar before planning your visit, as the gallery is closed between exhibitions and other schedule changes are posted here.

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