Professor, student reconstruct natural world
Table cloth, chicken wire and hand-rolled paper converge and form Crystal Wagner’s latest artistic creation — “the Arboretum.”
An exotic interpretation of nature, “the Arboretum” instantly connects its viewers to the natural world using bright colors and textured shapes.
“This body of work explores the idea of the plastic plant as a stand-in for something living,” said Wagner, assistant professor of art at Georgia College. “Through a combination of different processes that include printmaking and mixed-media, it creates an immersive environment that takes over the gallery.”
“the Arboretum” came to life this month for the first time at the University of South Carolina’s Sea Center Gallery in Beaufort, S.C.
“The project reminds us of nature,” said Wagner. “We used to have a relationship with the natural world, so this installation places people within an environment that seems familiar because it looks like plants, flowers and insects. However, it's strangely foreign."
Wagner spent a week at the University of South Carolina as its first visiting artist.
“I’ve traveled a lot as a visiting artist around the country,” Wagner said. “One of the best attributes about Georgia College is that I can really share my experiences with my students.”
Georgia College sophomore Claire Collar joined Wagner on the weeklong trip.
“I knew I needed to take this opportunity,” said Collar, a museum studies major. “We’re on the same dimensional plane with a similar language about art, which is special to me because I’m learning a little bit about her world on a professional level.”
During their visit, the two worked with undergraduate art students in paper, print and mixed-media to create “the Arboretum.”
Dedicating between 10 to 12 hours a day to complete the project, students helped make then install the large-scale artwork, stretching 30 feet long and 9 feet high in the art gallery.
“Claire did an exceptional job orchestrating the time spent in the university’s printmaking studio,” said Wagner. “Fifty different hands from members of the college and community helped in some way to make the piece come to life. It was amazing.”
Wagner will continue her installation work in May with an exhibition called “Gaia Milieu” held in New York’s HereArt Gallery.
Visit crystalwagner.com to view more of Wagner's work.