"Inhabitance" student sculpture show April 20 to 27 at Rutgers Gardens

Art is busting out into the open this month, as seven site-specific sculptures by Mason Gross School of the Arts undergraduate students go on view from Wednesday, April 20, through noon on Wednesday, April 27, 2016, at Rutgers Gardens, on Ryders Lane in New Brunswick. A public walk-through of the sculptures interspersed among the greenery will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. April 20 beginning at the gardens’ Log Cabin, at 140 Log Cabin Road. Admission is free.

The exhibition, Inhabitance, is a collaboration between Rutgers Gardens and a Mason Gross undergraduate sculpture class. Professor Aki Sasamoto of the Visual Arts Department says she views the show as a way for “the two communities to meet.” She says staff members at the garden, which Rutgers purchased a century ago, approached her about placing art in the space, open year-round on the George H. Cook Campus. Rutgers Gardens encompasses 180 acres of designed gardens and natural habitats, featuring a bamboo grove, a holly collection, an ornamental small tree collection, and tribute gardens, among other horticultural collections.

After an initial tour of the gardens, Sasamoto says, students selected their display sites, prepared drawings and models as part of a public art proposal, then worked for two weeks on the pieces. She says they chose the title Inhabitance because the works are, in a sense, inhabiting the landscape and relating to their surroundings in various ways; some were even built on site.

Sculpture student Ash Rivera says her work will eventually decompose in the gardens.

"It's meant to be part of the gardens, even at the end of its life," she says of one of the four Tree Structure pieces she constructed of rope and found materials.

Student Douglass Henry used bamboo and other materials to make Homage to the Caretakers, a piece that resembles the Shinto shrines of Japan. He says he was keen on using the bamboo on which people had carved their initials because "the material had a history. This is a memento to a simpler time. I guess I'm a romantic."

Ultimately, Sasamoto says, the idea of bringing art outside the typical gallery setting was invigorating.
“Suddenly we could envision that this exhibit would give students real exposure to both the gardens’ audiences and to art audiences, and that the exhibit would deepen their understanding of art practice beyond the usual white cube set-ups,” she says. “Leaving the classroom to interact with the real world is so exciting.” 

The gardens, open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, are at 112 Ryders Lane (near Route 1) in New Brunswick. Admission is free. Parking is available by the Log Cabin. More information on Inhabitance is available by calling Rutgers Gardens at 732-932-8451.

Participating students were: Rachel Bottcher; Emily Buchalski, aka CTBeatrice; Kerrianne Caputo; Douglass Henry; Delfina Picchio; Ash Rivera, and James Thomson.

Download a map of Inhabitance sculptures at Rutgers Gardens and take a tour!

Posted April 2016.