Art in the Balance

Many automatic functions guide us through our everyday environment. Just to pick one, let’s take the vestibular system. Ever heard of it? Think “balance” and you’d be on the right track. Sensory experience provides a wealth of information for the body movements we choose to make, and also those programmed into us by evolution. Trip over a stick and the immediate reaction is to try and right yourself. But getting right with the environment goes far beyond the function of our inner ear apparatus.

The human spirit has a vestibular system, too, of sorts. To be in touch and in tune with nature has a centering effect on us. Couple the outdoors with a creative pursuit, and engagement with both is enriched because together they sharpen and heighten our spatial orientation. We’re simply more “there” when physically and mentally involved.

Environmental art is participatory. There’s a “call and response” interaction between intentional movement and unfolding awareness. The shape of the ground underfoot directs the body’s interplay with gravity while the other four senses form an impression of the artwork.

Some art proposes to educate. Others strive to agitate. Fantasy Topography seeks to bring pleasure to the core.

I’m very pleased to have my environmental art piece, Fantasy Topography included in an exhibition at Shelburne Museum this season. Many thanks to Thomas Denenberg, Director, Kory Rogers, Chief Curator and Carolyn Bauer, Assistant Curator. This project was made possible with the help of the museum’s landscape and gardens crew. My wife Elin, project manager for Dan Snow Stoneworks, coordinated all aspects of the development and installation of the work.

In Their Element: Jonathan D. Ebinger, Rodrigo Nava, Dan Snow, is an outdoor installation featuring the work of three contemporary artists on view across the museum’s expansive campus. On view now through October.