There are so many ways to interpret this title “Grounds For Sculpture”. What I like about it is that it brings up a lot of questions and gives me a framework of consideration and perspective. Some of the questions that I find arising are the following:
- How do I interpret “Grounds”?
- Do we need grounds on which to create?
- Does sculpture need grounds in which to exist?
- Does art need grounds in which to exist?
- Can grounds enhance sculpture and vise versa?
- Does art/sculpture need justification?
- Can “grounds” help us in our experience with sculpture/art?
I can go on…
All this comes about after my visit to The Grounds For Sculpture this past week. This magnificent gem occupies 42 acres in Hamilton, NJ and is the outcome of artist and sculptor Seward Johnson’s vision for a public sculpture garden. He hoped to engage the public and increase their comfort with contemporary art. Part of that vision included presenting such art in a manner that was accessible and familiar.
**More on Seward Johnson http://www.sewardjohnson.com
**More on Grounds For Sculpture http://www.groundsforsculpture.org
The location is amazing and was constructed on the old New Jersey State Fair Grounds. Some of the original buildings have been artfully incorporated into the current site as galleries for additional exhibits by contemporary artists. The day that I went I enjoyed seeing some work by Pepon Osorio, whom I had not been aware of prior to this visit.
What I enjoyed experiencing was the power of sculpture when set in the framework of nature. Somehow for me both are brought into greater light and appreciation. There was a “bigger than life” feeling that I experienced. And as they state in a short video introduction at the center when you walk around you are on a constant path of discovery. Objects of art seem to greet you in unexpected places that at the same time seem so perfectly planned.
Another exciting part of my experience that day was getting a closer look at the work of Seward Johnson. In particular I was drawn to the idea of “art influencing art”. One of the sculptures present at “The Grounds” is Johnson’s life size interpretation of Renior’s “Luncheon of the Boating Party”. It’s amazing! For me, it was a multi-level experience that included not only engaging with Johnson’s work, but that of Renior on a physical and emotional level. I could imagine myself there…right in the scene with all the people. I got to walk right up to them, touch them and feel for a moment like I was part of the painting. And perhaps getting a more intimate view of both artists experience.
Grounds For Sculpture…. certainly engaged me and made the sculpture accessible in a way I have not experienced. As an artist who loves the Impressionists I had the opportunity to view and experience a painting in a sculptural context and the physical grounds made that possible. The art of nature worked in tandem with the physical sculptures in a way that honored their individual magnificence.
I’m still pondering possible answers to my questions regarding the interpretation of the title Grounds for Sculpture….but regardless this is a place of tremendous value and beauty that emanates the passion and love of an artists vision to make the world a better place for us all.
Gallery of some photos I took while visiting: