Recasting Nature: Selected Sculptures
Beth Galston is a Boston-based sculptor who builds architectural-scale environments based on an interest in light and the quality of space. Using delicate materials – scrim, metal mesh, resin, shadows, plants – Galston creates multilayered spaces through which viewers move and interact. For over twenty years she has built a diverse body of work including sculptural installations and objects, large scale public sculptures and collaborative multi-media performances. Her pieces create a sense of place, a moment of magic and transformation. This group of sculptures and prints that span Galston’s career is on view at the Susquehanna Art Museum from June 10 – September 18, 2016.
Her sculptures use ephemeral processes from nature as a metaphor to explore the passage of time, loss, and regeneration. Collecting leaves, acorns, branches, logs, and seedpods, she preserves them by making castings of their shapes or embedding them in translucent resin, like insects in amber. These simple things – an acorn or a rose stem, for example – are altered so we look at them in new ways. Extracted from the natural cycles of growth and decay, they become frozen moments in time, leading the viewer to meditations on change and permanence.
Beth Galston’s blog for The Online Literary Magazine at Arizona State University can be read here.
Beth Galston was born in Los Angeles, CA. She received M.S. in environmental art from MIT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies, where she was also a Fellow and began to work with light. Beth lives in Carlisle, MA and creates large-scale installations and public artworks nationally. For more than a decade she has been creating a series of walk-through environments called Luminous Gardens. Exhibitions include: Peabody Essex Museum, McColl Center for Visual Art, Provincetown Art Museum, Cynthia-Reeves Gallery, DeCordova Museum, Rose Art Museum, Wave Hill, Socrates Sculpture Park, to name a few. Recent public artworks include: Sound Wave, at Music City Center in Nashville, TN; Prairie Grass, at Northwest Service Center in San Antonio, TX: and Serpentine Fence, in Jamaica Plain, MA. Awards include a 2013 Massachusetts Artists Fellowship in Sculpture/Installation; a two-year fellowship from the Bunting Institute, Radcliffe; an NEA InterArts award and residencies at Yaddo and The MacDowell Colony.
Plan Your Visit
Date: June 10 – September 18, 2016
Venue: Lobby Gallery
Exhibiting Artist: Beth Galston
Sponsored by: Harrisburg University
Twenty years ago, when preparing for an exhibition, I became fascinated with a large magnolia tree that had dropped its leaves in an abundant pile on the ground outside the gallery. I was struck by their beautiful shape and reminded of the yearly process of growth and decay they are part of. I began collecting the leaves, brought them indoors and laid them out on the floor of my studio, rescuing them from this natural process—in effect, stopping time. By collecting, preserving, and transforming them in various ways, I gave them new sculptural life. This moment was the beginning of a journey and was the catalyst for the sculptural works in Recasting Nature: Selected Sculptures by Beth Galston, 1998-2016.
I think of certain natural forms—leaf, acorn, acorn cap, seedpod, branch—as basic building blocks, like cells. Through repetition and improvisation, I build new structures with them that explore the relationship between natural and manmade. Although I also incorporate industrial materials, I strive to create a feeling of naturalness in my sculptures and installations, as if the pieces might have made themselves.
The title Recasting Nature can be thought of in two ways. Literally, it refers to my process of casting using urethane resin, a translucent plastic. I embed natural materials within blocks of resin, like insects in amber, or transform their shapes into crystalline objects. Recently I have cast chains of acorn caps in bronze to make them permanent. The word recasting also means, “to cast again or anew.” By taking something familiar, such as an acorn or rose stem, I can transform them, so that the ordinary becomes extraordinary.
Within the parameters of using elements and principles found in nature I have discovered a lifetime of themes to explore. Ideas have circled around, and re-emerged in new forms and materials. My hope is to provide viewers with an experience that will allow them to see the world with fresh eyes.
“Recasting Nature, An Artist’s Retrospective” by Joseph and Barrie Anne George, The Carlisle Sentinel, July 13, 2016.