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Antioch College's Herndon Gallery opens AgriCULTURE

Full Moon Opening Reception: Thursday, March 5th, 6:00–9:00 p.m.
Exhibition runs from March 5–May 15, 2015

The Herndon Gallery at Antioch College is pleased to announce the opening of its newest exhibition, AgriCULTURE. An opening reception will be held on Thursday, March 5, from 6:00–9:00 p.m. in collaboration with Antioch Farm & Kitchens. The exhibition will continue through May 15, 2015. All events are free and open to the public.

Fittingly, AgriCULTURE opens on the evening of a full moon, an important planting time in folklore and farming almanacs, thought to ensure strong and healthy crops. The exhibition examines and responds to critical social, political and environmental justice issues arising as a direct result of unsustainable contemporary agricultural production practices. Participating artists are intimately connected with farming culture and resonate deeply with challenges like honeybee colony collapse disorder, loss of the family farm to the oil boom in North Dakota, loss of genetic diversity, seed rights, and USDA policy imbalances favoring chemical and industrial agriculture over organic agriculture.

AgriCULTURE ties into several relevant and innovative Antioch spring quarter curricular offerings including Global Seminar on Food and Ecological Agriculture, and marks the beginning of the Antioch Farm and Kitchen's growing season.

Antioch College Instructor of cooperative education, Beth Bridgeman, who has been instrumental in developing agricultural-based student co-op placements, conceived of the idea of an exhibition focusing on food production. Bridgeman shared the idea with Herndon Gallery creative director, Jennifer Wenker, an eco-artist, public health nurse and organic farmer, who welcomed the opportunity to curate such an exhibition. AgriCULTURE grew out of that rich dialogue and developed with curatorial support from former creative director and resident scholar, Dennie Eagleson ’71, the arts faculty at Antioch, and a staff and student curatorial team.

A closing reception will be held May 15, 2015, 7:00–9:00 p.m., with a public talk by visiting artist and sculptor, Jeff Schmuki. He will invite the public to harvest and help cook the fresh greens (bok choy and collards) in his delightfully hopeful, futuristic hydroponic sculptural work, Homestead III, as it weaves between the columns of the Herndon Gallery’s lower gallery exhibition space.

Additional talks, events & programs are still being developed in collaboration with Antioch College faculty and participating artists. Please be sure to check the Antioch College website for updates as they develop: antiochcollege.org/campus-life/herdon-gallery.

About the artists:

Anne Noble of New Zealand is an internationally awarded, Fulbright senior scholar and distinguished professor of fine arts (photography) at Massey University in Wellington. Noble’s large-scale photograms anchor the exhibition. As a beekeeper, Noble photographs thousands of collected bee wings collected from entire hives lost to colony collapse, which is linked to widespread pesticide use in agriculture. The bee wings creating an eerily beautiful ether-like world where the bees no longer exist. Noble says that her eight-foot-long photograms are, “…an imaginary space where the souls of some millions of bees and the detritus of their wings are floating as if in some kind of watery ethereal substrate.”

Sarah Christianson of North Dakota holds an MFA in photography from the University of Minnesota and has received grants from the San Francisco Arts Commission and the Center for Cultural Innovation. Christianson’s first book, Homeplace (Daylight, 2013), documents the history and uncertain future of her family’s farm. Her most recent project, When the Landscape Is Quiet Again, recently reviewed in Mother Jones, examines the oil boom currently underway in western North Dakota and its insidious impact on farms and the families who remain. Christianson’s work has a frank, quiet, careful presence in conveying the no-nonsense lifestyle and isolation of Dakota farm families and the harsh plains landscape. One fourth-generation rancher expresses the regret and sense of loss faced by so many, “We all wanted this oil development. We just didn’t know what we were in for. Even half of what we got would’ve been too much.”

Jeff Schmuki of Georgia was raised in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, an environment of extremes that nurtured a unique relationship to the fragile landscape and a respect for limited natural resources. Schmuki, assistant professor of art at Georgia Southern University, has exhibited and/or completed projects at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, Seoul Art Space, the Goethe Institute of Cairo, Egypt, and the Bach Modern in Salzburg, Austria. Together with artist Wendy DesChene, he co-founded PlantBot Genetics, which started as a parody of a fictitious biotech corporation using renewable power technologies and sound. For AgriCULTURE, he will install an elaborate and whimsical hydroponic sculpture of living greens with amplified sound of water dripping through the root systems and tubing. He says of his works, “(they) offer simple, positive changes that can be enacted to increase sustainability–an activity that can be replicated long after the artist has moved on.”

Dennie Eagleson ’71 of Yellow Springs, Ohio is an Antioch College resident scholar, former professor of photography (1989–2008) and former Herndon Gallery creative director (2012–2014); Eagleson exhibits her fine art and documentary photography regionally and nationally. Her work includes documentary projects in Cuba, Nicaragua, Sarajevo, local projects focused on alternative families, and place-based investigations with pinhole and plastic lens cameras. For almost ten years, Eagleson has also farmed on her six-acre land in Clark County, organically raising berries, vegetables and bees. Her gardens have become a source for her photography, celebrating both form and process. Eagleson holds a B.A. in Art from Antioch College, an MFA from the University of Cincinnati in photography, and has been an Artist in Residence at the University of Dayton.

Jeni Hansen Gard of Michigan is an MFA candidate at Ohio State University. She is a potter with roots in the hospitality trade, having grown up in her parent’s bed & breakfast. “I began my work as a vessel-maker and now define myself as an experience-maker with vessel in hand. I see myself as a facilitator working in the space between people and the food they consume.” Hansen Gard will be submitting a set of handmade ceramic place settings for two with the intent that visitors of the gallery may participate in Project SHARE by signing out the set, inviting someone not well known to them to share a meal, and then documenting the experience on the Project SHARE blog.

Jennifer Wenker of Greenfield, Ohio originally trained in botany, biology and life drawing at Morehead State University. Her life path veered circuitously through oncology and public health nursing, organic farming and motherhood, before coming into an eco-art practice that invites dialogue, activism and change. Wenker earned her MFA from the University of Cincinnati and is active with the Marianist Environmental Education Center’s annual art exhibition and SOS Art: Sociopolitical Expressions for Peace and Justice, curated by artist/activist Dr. Saad Ghosn in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her eco-sculptures received critical attention at the Phyllis Weston Gallery in Cincinnati, Ohio, and in 2014, at WoCA Projects in Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas. She is the founder of SPARK! Creative Artspace, a quirky community arts space in her Appalachian hometown whose mission is to bring communities up by bringing people together through the arts.

Allison Smith from Wisconsin is an MFA Candidate at the University of Cincinnati, and 2014 ArtPrize pitch finalist. She is exploring genetic diversity loss as a result of widespread use of the herbicide glyphosate, commonly known as Round-Up. For this exhibition, Smith is creating a series of intimate sculptural panels, made up of lime calcium, collected native seed and Braille to express what is being lost to mono-cropping and what we are slowly losing in plant diversity.

Herndon Gallery hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays, 1:00–4:00 p.m. The gallery is closed March 24–April 4, 2015 during the Antioch College quarter break. For more information, contact Jennifer Wenker, creative director of the Herndon Gallery at jwenker@antiochcollege.org or (937) 319-0114. Additional information may be found at www.antiochcollege.org/campus-life/herdon-gallery.