Theories of the Earth exhibit opens to students

Theories of the Earth is described as a dynamic exhibition of sculptures, drawings and installations by artists Lauren Fensterstock and Beth Lipman. The display, funded by the Haas Visiting Artists Program, will run until April 9 in Watson Fine Arts. Fensterstock and Lipman will also be visiting Wheaton on April 6 to speak about their work.

The Haas Visiting Artists Program assisted Gallery Director Michele L’Heureux immensely as she helped bring these two artists with growing national and international recognition to campus. Many people who are interested in art, both on and off campus, are thrilled to see Fensterstock and Lipman do a joint exhibit.

“The opening reception was very well attended by students, as well as faculty, staff and administrators,” said L’Heureux. “There were also lots of visitors from the Providence and Boston art communities who know of these artists’ work and wanted to see it together in a two-person show for the first time. Word is out on campus that there is something exciting going on in the galleries, so more and more students are stopping by to see the work.”

While the two artists work through different art mediums, there are many similarities in theme which make the exhibit harmonious. “The overlap of their interests and ideas is remarkable,” L’Heureux said. “The tension between nature and culture, the interest in consumption and collecting and the themes of fragility and mortality are just a few of the things the work of these artists [have] in common.”

The artwork can also be relevant to other disciplines of study. According to L’Heureux, “A student studying environmental science might examine this exhibition from the lens of material culture and what it is doing to our planet. A studio art or art history major might study the work’s relationship to historical still life painting. A psychology major might think more about the act of collecting and what this means for our culture and ourselves.”

The exhibit’s title was agreed upon by the two artists, who found their inspiration for the pieces from a published theory in the 15th century. The work was by Thomas Burnet, called Sacred Theory of the Earth, and concerned the origin of the universe. The Theories of the Earth exhibition can be viewed from Monday to Saturday 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the Beard and Weil Galleries in Watson Fine Arts.