-- Hope is the Thing with Feathers: Art of the Natural World
will feature works by Klee, Hockney, and Warhol --
QUEENS, NY, April 3 2019 – Taking its name from the Emily Dickinson poem “Hope is the thing with feathers,” the next exhibition at the Godwin-Ternbach Museum, opening April 11, brings together more than 130 works across cultures and time periods in an exploration of the strong relationship between nature and art. The show and its public programs are intended to prompt discussion of the crises facing our environment and their possible solutions. All of the works are from the museum’s holdings, which span antiquity to modern day.
The natural world has inspired and preoccupied artists at least as far back as the Upper Paleolithic era 40,000 years ago, the likely date of some cave drawings discovered in Indonesia. Egyptian antiquities in the exhibition hint at the relationships humans had with their animal gods, believing, for example, that people could take on the falcon’s ferocity, majesty and power, while the show’s pre-Columbian textiles, created with thousands of tiny feathers from brightly colored birds, were thought to transfer their spirit into the wearer. Displayed late medieval prints by Italian artists will address mythological or allegorical themes. Surrealist works by Magritte and Ernst convey a sense of chance and mystery, altering notions of the natural world.
“I see this exhibition as an opportunity to reveal the rich accessions in the Godwin-Ternbach Museum’s permanent collection,” says guest curator Louise Weinberg, an artist and independent curator who works at the Queens Museum. “Like a modern-day Wunderkammer (cabinet of treasures), the exhibition aims to compare—over millennia and cultural boundaries—artifacts of faith and fantasy, documentation and representation. By examining the past, hopefully we will learn to change our future.”
Weinberg, who holds a BFA and MFA in Fine Art from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, also drew upon the Department of Special Collections & Archives in the college’s Benjamin S. Rosenthal Library to assemble the exhibition.
The exhibition will also feature selections reprinted in a special 1985 limited-edition folio of John James Audubon’s Birds of America series (1827-1838), highlighting such extinct species as the Carolina parakeet, ivory-billed woodpecker, and passenger pigeon, and the endangered little blue heron. These are grouped with Mark Catesby’s Crested Jay, c. 1731, which predated Audubon’s original paintings by about 100 years, and a 2010 work by billy ocallaghan [sic], Birds of America (Redacted). Contemporary artists’ books bring the conversation full circle, acquainting viewers with the dramatic loss of habitats and species occurring today.
The exhibition will also feature pre-Columbian ceramics, Dutch landscape paintings, Japanese ukiyo-e prints, 20th-century landscape photography, and Works Progress Administration prints. Robert Birmelin, Albrecht Durer, Fernand Léger, Roy Lichtenstein, Jean Francois Millet and Félicien Rops are among the other artists represented.
Hope is the Thing with Feathers: Art of the Natural World is open Monday–Thursday, 10 am–5 pm, and Saturday, 11 am–5 pm. The opening reception will be on Thursday, April 11 from 6–8 pm. Information on free public programs related to the exhibition is available at www.gtmuseum.org.
About the Godwin-Ternbach Museum
The Godwin-Ternbach Museum, a part of Queens College’s Kupferberg Center for the Visual and Performing Arts, presents contemporary and historical exhibitions and programs that provide exciting educational opportunities and aesthetic experiences to the Queens College community and residents of Queens, Manhattan and Long Island. As the only collection of art and artifacts in the borough housing over 6,000 objects that date from ancient to modern times, the museum introduces visitors to works they might not otherwise encounter. Lectures, symposia, gallery talks, workshops, concerts, and tours complement and interpret the art on view to serve the needs and interests of local communities. All exhibitions and programs are free. www.gtmuseum.org
About Queens College
Queens College graduates the most teachers, counselors, and principals serving in New York City public schools. The college contributes to the local talent pool as a powerful economic engine and a leader in tech education, with more computer science majors than any college in New York City. Students from across the country and around the world are attracted to study at the Aaron Copland School of Music. Its renowned faculty and alumni include nationally recognized composers, conductors and performers who have received over 100 Grammy Awards and nominations.
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