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Force of Nature

This catalogue documents a grand collaboration between seven institutions in North and South Carolina and ten contemporary Japanese artists. The artists were in the Carolinas for six-week residencies, creating work using natural materials or processes to be installed at their host institutions. The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston and the Van Every/Smith Galleries at Davidson College organised these exhibitions and the residency programme. Co-curators Mark Sloan and Brad Thomas travelled to Japan in the fall of 2003 with the purpose of identifying artists whose work fit their criteria for Force of Nature , especially artists whose work represented a sustained engagement with the human/nature dialectic. Utilising a curatorial network of Japanese curators, gallerists, and academics, Sloan and Thomas were able to gain access to some of the most original and provocative artists living in Japan today. The ten selected artists were chosen as much for their philosophical approach to art and nature as for their previous work. Each artist addressed the theme utilising locally available natural materials (salt, wood, dirt, plant-life, etc.) or natural elements and processes (wind, fire, water, decay, evaporation, erosion, etc.) in a temporary installation. These installations explored the relationship between humans and nature through the minds and hands of these contemporary artists. This exhibition provoked a dialog and discussion with members of each host community while bringing the work of these young artists to the attention of audiences who would have few opportunities to view contemporary Japanese art. The residencies and installations occurred in the fall of 2006, with a capstone exhibition at the Sumter County Gallery of Art in April 2007, and a follow-up symposium and exhibition at Kyoto University of Art and Design. Distributed for the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art.
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About the Author

Mark Sloan is the director and senior curator of the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston School of the Arts, USA. Sloan is an accomplished photographer and the author or coauthor of eight books. Brad Thomas is director of the Van Every/Smith Galleries at Davidson College, USA. He has organised numerous exhibitions, including the retrospective of apocalyptic visionary paintings by the late Reverend McKendree Robbins Long and a presentation of narrative textiles by indigenous peoples of war-torn countries, entitled Threads of Conflict.

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