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Indepth Arts News:

"Seventh Northwest Biennial: Buildingwise"
2004-04-17 until 2004-09-06
Tacoma Art Museum
Tacoma, WA, USA United States of America

In its ongoing commitment to Northwest art and artists, Tacoma Art Museum presents its seventh Northwest Biennial exhibition, titled Buildingwise, on view through September 6, 2004.  Every two years, the museum invites artists of the Northwest to submit their art work for consideration in a themed exhibition, and nationally recognized artists to jury the exhibition. Tacoma Art Museum’s move into its new building in May 2003 inspired the theme of this year’s Biennial, “buildingwise.” As Tacoma Art Museum planned for life in a new building, staff considered the meanings that buildings suggest, such as domestic retreat, pubic showcase, and civic pride. For the Biennial competition artists from the region submitted works that address how constructed spaces reflect human nature and cultural priorities.

Works in the exhibition examine a variety of constructed spaces, such as a living room, a city, or a psychological space that may exist only in the mind. Whether they exist in the environment or in the mind, these works explore the idea that constructed spaces may serve to fulfill needs, such as shelter, a sense of community, or belonging.

“Every aspect of the human environment is constructed: an urban development, a building, a living space, or psychological protection,” notes organizing curator Rock Hushka. “Most existing structures are built to protect us from natural elements, yet we also construct shelters to protect us from threats of the unknown.”

Jurors Ilya and Emilia Kabakov selected works from over 500 entries that represent this notion of “buildingwise.” The Russian-born installation artists are renowned for creating environments that challenge our conventional concepts of living spaces and common domestic rituals. The Kabakovs selected over 100 works by nearly 80 artists from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana.

The exhibition includes a wide range of media that emphasize the creative power of Northwest artists. Particularly interesting is an installation by Nan Curtis and Martin Houston entitled Pattern’s of Use. The work is an exercise in observing visitor circulation patterns which are reflected on wear in the carpeting for the exhibition. This unique “work in progress” will be created by the viewers and later edited into sections for display and sale.

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