Material Resources

Unidentified Turkish artist, Dioscorides Materia Medica, 1200, ink, gouache, 11¾” x 715/ 16”
Unidentified Egyptian artist, Fayum Mummy Portrait Mask, 100–200 CE, painted wood with applied gilt leaf, 15½” x 8” x 1/ 16”
Martha Bush Cleaveland, Marking Sampler, 1803–1826, silk thread on linen, 20½” x 16½”

The Bowdoin College Museum of Art presents Material Resources: Intersections of Art and the Environment, an exhibition showcasing more than 80 items from the museum’s encyclopedic collection. Material Resources highlights artists’ dependence on Earth’s natural resources throughout time and poses a question: How does creating art interconnect political, cultural, and social ecologies? Through viewing this collection, one explores over 2,000 years of history in a variety of cultures as represented by everything from an ancient Egyptian portrait mask to contemporary works by Barry Dana, Christo, Mel Chin, Leonardo Drew, and Agnes Denes.

Material Resources is divided into three parts: “Extraction,” “Conservation,” and “Development.” Each individual section emphasizes how artists engage with their environments to create their artworks. “Extraction” focuses on the historic and global use of natural resources to produce material objects. “Conservation” explores the desire to use the American landscape as a resource, specifically seeking to understand westward migration, Native American displacement, and the creation and growth of the National Parks System. As the final part of Material Resources, “Development” explores the rise of man-made structures, the interplay of civilization and the natural environment, and the advances of the twentieth century. Together, these parts provide a cohesive overview of the use of natural resources in art, and how the art itself acts as a resource for under- standing and relating to the environment.

Material Resources: Intersections of Art and the Environment opened in December 2018 and will be on display until June 2. The exhibition, located in Bowdoin College’s Walker Art Building, is free and open to the public. The Bowdoin College Museum of Art is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Thursdays, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Maine Home+Design provides a preview of the exhibition on the following pages.

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