Sonja Peterson / Seemingly Useless Parts
Spetember 13 - November 10, 2013
MINNEAPOLIS Zebra mussels, Dutch elm disease, kudzu, even dandelions. What do these things have in common? Theyre all invasive species to North America; all innocently, if not accidentally, introduced with unanticipated results. This meddling by man and the unforeseen consequences are the subtle and startling focus of Sonja Petersons new show, Seemingly Useless Parts opening Fri., Sept 13 at Burnet Gallery in Le Méridien Chambers.
Why startling? At first glance, Petersons collages, woodcuts and sculptures depict serene, almost whimsical plants and landscapes. Individual images of flora are initially reminiscent of classic botanical watercolor studies. However, upon a closer study of Petersons works such as Allspiced Up there is a darker tale. The roots of a plant appear to transform into a snarled ribbon of waterways winding its way back to a distant clipper ship. It appears to be a statement by the artist on the long history of mans impact on the globalization of not only culture and commerce, but also nature itself.
At the same time that these ships were delivering plants and spices, they were also delivering other interlopers, notes Peterson. There are all these conscious and unconscious consequences to our actions. There is this complex chain of nature where were interlinked with the environment, yet we frequently overlook or forget that were inextricably connected.
Other pieces in the show depict what Peterson describes as both the epic and profound irony of how the world began as a single landmass, Pangaea, which while physically separated over the eons, is now being reunited through mans intervention. Coming Together, a woodcut sculpture, creates a virtual island with intersected landscapes that physically join the manmade with the natural. Skyscrapers and cables seem to morph into trees and vines as they merge with a riotous, untamed jungle.
There is this continual push-pull relationship, explains Peterson. We have this long history of globalization and commerce and ongoing struggles with the environment. Man has this desire to control his environment. But whos actually in control? Man or nature? Is there a need for more humility and less hubris?
Petersons works in Seemingly Useless Pieces are funded in part by grants from the Jerome Foundation Travel and Research Fellowship Award, the Artist-in-Residence, Bell Museum of Natural History, Minneapolis and the Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Fellowship.
Sonja Peterson, an artist who lives in Minneapolis has exhibited throughout the United States and abroad. She works in a variety of medium to explore the delicate balance of nature and culture and where we find ourselves in this negotiation. "Often my artwork is derived by looking at historical events and science to absorb present day dilemmas," notes Peterson.
In the past year Peterson has been the resident research artist at the Bell Museum of Natural History and was awarded the Minnesota State Arts Board fellowship, the Jerome Travel and Research grant and was a McKnight fellowship finalist.
Her work has been exhibited most recently at No Man is an Island, a solo show at the Bell Museum of Natural History, Minneapolis; Minnesota Grown a group exhibition at Coe College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; 10 Year Anniversary Exhibition and Josephine Lutz Rollins Exhibition both at Regis Center for Art, Minneapolis and Wanderlust at Quarter Gallery, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. Her work Becoming Intense is a permanent installation at Le Méridien Chambers. Burnet Gallery previously hosted the successful, Second Nature solo show of Petersons works in 2010.
Peterson studied political science at Whittier College, Calif., and later received her BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art & Design and her MFA from the University of Minnesota in 2009.
Burnet Gallery is located in Le Méridien Chambers, an award-winning art hotel located in downtown Minneapolis. Burnet Gallery is a commercial gallery showcasing works by a wide array of international, national and local contemporary artists. Considered one of the top boutique art hotels in the world, Le Méridien Chambers features more than 250 pieces of original contemporary art throughout the public areas as well as the hotels 60 guest rooms. Located at 901 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, Minn., it offers a unique combination of art, culinary, design and true boutique hotel experience. For reservations, call: 612-767-6900 or visit: www.lemeridienchambers.com/art