Our identities and natural environments are intertwined
Spirit in the Land is a contemporary art exhibition that examines today’s urgent ecological concerns from a cultural perspective, demonstrating how intricately our identities and natural environments are intertwined. Through their artwork, thirty artists show us how rooted in the earth our most cherished cultural traditions are, how our relationship to land and water shapes us as individuals and communities. The works reflect the restorative potential of our connection to nature and exemplify how essential both biodiversity and cultural diversity are to our survival.
These artists explore the ways in which our inner spaces mirror our outer ones in works that both celebrate the profound beauty of our world and mourn its loss, and with it, vanishing histories of people and place.
As the battles against climate change are often most critical for marginalized communities—environmental justice is social and racial justice—the exhibition and catalogue center the voices of artists who approach ecological awareness through a close attention to the communities most negatively affected. Acting as environmental stewards, the artists reclaim and revitalize our understanding of nature as a repository of cultural memory, a place of sanctuary, a site of resistance, and a source of spiritual nourishment and healing. As land and water provide a sense of belonging and community, the exhibition illustrates our interdependence with all life on Earth.
Spirit in the Land has its roots in North America, with shoots reaching into the Caribbean. While these artists investigate natural environments under stress, the exhibition presents a belief in the possibility of transformation and regeneration. Our desire to live in harmony with nature is ultimately what will determine our future.
This exhibition is organized by Trevor Schoonmaker, Mary D.B.T. and James H. Semans Director, Nasher Museum.
Terry Adkins, Firelei Báez, Radcliffe Bailey, Rina Banerjee, Christi Belcourt, María Berrío, Mel Chin, Andrea Chung, Sonya Clark, Maia Cruz Palileo, Annalee Davis, Tamika Galanis, Allison Janae Hamilton, Barkley L. Hendricks, Alexa Kleinbard, Hung Liu, Hew Locke, Meryl McMaster, Wangechi Mutu, Dario Robleto, Jim Roche, Kathleen Ryan, Sheldon Scott, Renée Stout, Monique Verdin, Stacy Lynn Waddell, Charmaine Watkiss, Marie Watt, Carrie Mae Weems, Peter Williams.
Image: Peter Williams, "Birdland," 2020. Oil and graphite on canvas, 60 x 72 inches (152.4 x 182.9 cm). Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina.