Bound to the Earth: Art, Materiality, and the Natural World

Thursday, Nov 21, 2019-Thursday, Mar 19, 2020
Untitled, from the Silueta series
Ana Mendieta
Untitled, from the Silueta series
1976-2001, cibachrome prints, suite of nine, edition 8 of 10, each of 5: sheet: 8 x 10 in. (20.3 x 25.4 cm), framed: 25 x 31 x 1 1/4 in; each of 4: 10 x 8 in. (25.4 x 20.3 cm), framed: 31 x 25 x 1 1/4 in.. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Museum purchase, International and Contemporary Collectors Fund, 2002.7.1-9 © The Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection, Courtesy Galerie Lelong, New York.
Drawn from the Museum’s collection, Bound to the Earth: Art, Materiality, and the Natural World looks at the ways in which artists have addressed and represented the landscape. Many works are made with earthen materials such clay and tar, sticks and soil; others focus on the natural resources that constitute our environment. Beginning in the late 1960s, a group of  artists began siting their sculptures, installations, and performances outdoors, engaging with the natural world in contrast to the space of the gallery. These works of land art varied from  minimal and ephemeral gestures in the landscape to large movements of the earth. Artists often documented their actions, producing photographs or videos, or relocated organic material from their original site into the gallery to create sculptures and installations. The legacies of land art can be seen in the work of many artists, who continue to turn their attention, and ours, to the world around us.
Bound to the Earth features artists working across many decades and in various media, including sculpture, performance documentation, and video. Understanding that the landscape is not neutral ground, the works in this exhibition prompt a reconsideration of the different influences that shape our understanding of the natural world. Many artists encourage a broad understanding of the earth, questioning the ways in which it is mined for resources or divided as political territory. And as our relationship to natural resources continues to change, these artworks foreground materials that are often overlooked, contextualizing their many formal, cultural, and symbolic meanings.
Bound to the Earth: Art, Materiality, and the Natural World is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and made possible by gifts to the annual operating fund. Institutional support of MCASD is provided by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture and the County of San Diego Community Enhancement Fund.