Dorothy O’Connor: Martin Shallenberger Artist in Residence in 2013
April 6 - June 30
Atlanta-based artist, Dorothy O’Connor, will be creating a new installment of her acclaimed series Scenes at Cheekwood this spring in her role as the 2013 Martin Shallenberger Artist-in-Residence program. Open studio hours will be held on Tuesdays (10 am – 12 pm) and Thursdays (10 am – 12 pm) now through April 4th so that visitors can observe her at work. Once completed, the new exhibition Shelter to debut to the public on April 6 and be on display until June 30.
During her residency at Cheekwood and throughout the subsequent exhibition, O’Connor will create a multilayered installation covering multiple gallery spaces. Visitors will find Cheekwood’s Frist Learning Center galleries transformed into an enchanted forest constructed from the pages of books, complete with handmade animals, forest details and other props. O’Connor’s vision for the site was inspired by Cheekwood’s beautiful natural landscape, particularly the trees in and around its gardens. Trees appear frequently in the artist’s work, representing significant concepts such as aging, history, life and death. The piece will incorporate the root system of a forest, with the central part of the scene installed in the Frist Learning Center’s Courtyard Gallery and additional video documentation in the exhibition stables.
Now in its second year, the Martin Shallenberger Artist-in-Residence program brings national and international artists to Nashville to create one-of-a-kind pieces at Cheekwood, interacting with staff, visitors, and the arts community throughout the creative process. With its renowned gardens and art collections, Cheekwood offers visiting artists a great set of resources to reflect broadly on nature and sustainability within a global art world. Thanks to the private foundation that provides the endowment for the program, new developments for 2013 include renovations within the Frist Learning Center that will allow O’Connor and future resident artists to conduct the majority of their work in the gallery on site.
“We are thrilled to welcome Ms. O’Connor as our Artist in Residence for 2013,” said Jochen Wierich, Curator of Art. “Her Scenes combine performance art and photography to create a world that is magical and dream-like. The Scene that she is creating at Cheekwood will be the first one built entirely outside of her own studio in Atlanta. No doubt, she’ll have a chance to explore new possibilities within Cheekwood’s garden setting, utilize natural elements and tell a compelling story through her art. We look forward to giving O’Connor a dynamic place to work and can’t wait to see what she will bring to Cheekwood and the Nashville arts community.”
O’Connor’s Scenes series spans the last seven years, combining elements of still life, portraiture and landscape to produce unique and evocative works of installation art. Working in the style of a tableau vivant, or “living picture,” the artist constructs dramatic and fanciful scenes using everyday objects and handmade sculptural elements. When the setting is complete, she incorporates a live model into the scene in an active role, using the human presence as a catalyst in telling the installation’s story. O’Connor then captures the scene with a large-format 8 x 10 camera, giving each story a second life as a photograph. “I think of them as suspended narratives like a movie still or the after-image of a dream,” says Wierich.