5 Questions with Rebecca Hutchinson

The fourth installment of NMWA’s biennial exhibition series, Organic Matters—Women to Watch 2015 is presented by the museum and participating national and international outreach committees. The exhibition’s artists redefine the relationship between women, art, and nature. Associate Curator Virginia Treanor spoke with emerging and contemporary women artists featured in Organic Matters.

Organic Matters—Women to Watch 2015
Artist: Rebecca Hutchinson
Nominating committee: Massachusetts State Committee / Consulting curator: Jen Mergel, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

1. Organic Matters includes art that refers or responds to the natural world. How do you think your work Patterns of Nature relates to the theme of nature?

Rebecca Hutchinson; Photo by Kurt Keller

Rebecca Hutchinson; Photo by Kurt Keller

My work is inspired from ecosystem research, how things grow and survive within specific dynamics. Patterns are seen both formally and behaviorally.

2. Is this work representative of your oeuvre? How does it fit into your larger body of work?

This piece is new work; a new series working from the floor yet connects to the history of my work through ecosystem research. In this case, I have researched rock outcroppings and forest floor as well as botanical motifs in Persian rugs.

3. As an artist, what is your most essential tool? Why?

A bucket. Everything is mixed with water, whether clay or fiber, and collected there again after being prepared waiting to be manipulated and used.

Rebecca Hutchinson, Patterns of Nature (detail), 2014; Porcelain paper clay, fiber, and organic material, 10 x 36 x 96 in.; Courtesy of the artis

Rebecca Hutchinson, Patterns of Nature (detail), 2014; Porcelain paper clay, fiber, and organic material, 10 x 36 x 96 in.; Courtesy of the artist

4. Who or what are your sources of inspiration and/or influence?

I look at both folk art and contemporary works by trained artists as well as aspects of nature.

5. What’s the last exhibition you saw that you had a strong reaction to?

A solo show of Eva Hild in Chelsea—forms were sensual and masterfully gripping.

Frightful & Delightful: Summer Exhibitions

We are excited to announce that NMWA’s summer exhibitions, Super Natural and Organic Matters—Women to Watch 2015, open tomorrow! Museum staff have been busy transforming the 2nd-floor galleries to display these flora-and-fauna-filled artworks by women.

NMWA exhibition team hang works while Patricia Piccinini’s Stags look on.

NMWA’s exhibition team hangs works while Patricia Piccinini’s Stags look on, Photograph: Laura Hoffman

Super Natural explores the works of both historical painters and naturalists alongside contemporary artists.

Historical works like Rachel Ruysch’s 17th-century still life are juxtaposed with contemporary works such as Sam Taylor-Johnson’s video of decaying fruit.

Upon walking into the galleries, the spotlit Stags, by Patricia Piccinini, compels viewers into the room to take a closer look at these sparring hybrid creatures.

One Super Natural gallery displays a variety of ingenious artists’ books together with Maria Sybilla Merian’s lavish illustrations of plants and insects. Not merely beautiful depictions of flowers, Merian’s prints portray insects’ life cycles, including a graphic depiction of a spider feasting on an ill-fated hummingbird. Super Natural subverts traditional notions of women as observers, showing them as inventive and risk-taking artists.

Gallery spaces are transformed for Super Natural

Gallery spaces are transformed for Super Natural, Photograph: Laura Hoffman

A plethora of photographs from Janaina Tschäpe’s “Little Deaths” series appears alongside Ana Mendieta’s “Volcano” series. Both artists’ work reflects their interest in manipulating scenes of nature with the human body.

NMWA’s committee-driven exhibition Organic Matters—Women to Watch 2015 features living artists working with the subject of nature. 

Organic Matters presents 13 emerging or underrepresented artists from the states and countries in which the museum has outreach committees. These artists redefine the relationship between women, art, and nature.

A recurring theme in Organic Matters is the emphasis on humankind’s effect on the environment. Goldschmied and Chiari’s photograph harkens back to Monet’s waterlillies, but presents garbage-made-pretty lilies floating in a stream. Drawings by Jennifer Celio portray an unsettling view of nature in the not-too-distant future. Mimi Kato’s digital landscape explores the presence of mankind within urban green spaces.

Organic Matters artist Dawn Holder lays out individual squares of porcelain grass in Monoculture; Right, Organic Matters artist Rebecca Hutchinson assembles her multimedia installation Patterns of Nature, Photographs: Laura Hoffman

Large floor-based sculptures by contemporary artists Dawn Holder and Rebecca Hutchinson command visitors’ attention in the center of each Organic Matters gallery. Both artists came to the museum for the installation process.

Super Natural and Organic Matters—Women to Watch 2015 are on view through September 13, 2015. Stop in for Free Community Day this Sunday and enjoy noon gallery talks every Wednesday!

—Emily Haight is the digital editorial assistant at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.