Ear to the Ground: Earth and Element in Contemporary Art at New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA), through August 31, 2019

The New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) presents Ear to the Ground: Earth and Element in Contemporary Art. Working with natural elements like earth, wind, water and fire, the artists featured in the group exhibition show how nature can spur artistic innovation and spark new thinking about human culture and community. Drawn predominantly from NOMA’s permanent collection, Ear to the Ground features works by 18 artists across vastly different media, cultures and time periods which each reference earth and element in very different ways.

Artists featured in Ear to the Ground include Dan Alley, Lynda Benglis, Diedrick Brackens, Edward Burtynsky, Chandra McCormick, Clyde Connell, Dawn DeDeaux, Courtney Egan, Olafur Eliasson, Jorge Otero Escobar, Mikhail Karikis, Ronald Lockett, Sara Madandar, Cristina Molina, Jennifer Odem, Bosco Sodi, Pat Steir, and Christopher Wilmarth. While some make materials like dirt and mud their primary medium, some turn to nature as a collaborator or conspirator in the creation of their art, casting sculptures directly upon the ground, or dying textiles with water drawn from rivers and oceans. Other featured artists reference natural processes like weathering, disintegration and sedimentation to address current social and political issues ranging from climate change to questions surrounding immigration and cultural belonging.” — NOMA

Dan Alley, Delta, 2014, Poured Aluminum, 50 x 156 inches, Collection of the Artist © Dan Alley Studio

Sara Madandar, Something Lost, 2015 Canvas and spray paint, 64 x 46 inches, Collection of the Artist © Sara Madandar

Bosco Sodi, Muro, 2017, Fired clay, 25 clay timbers, 4 z 19 ½ x 4 inches (each), New Orleans Museum of Art, Gift of the Artist and Paul Kasmin Gallery, 2017.226.1-25 © Studio Bosco Sodi, Donation courtesy the Artist and Kasmin Gallery

Ronald Lockett, Drought, 1994, Found tin, pencil and nails on wood, 48 ½ x 51 ½ inches, New Orleans Museum of Art, Museum Purchase and Gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation from the William S. Arnett Collection, 2017.172 ©Ronald Lockett

Jorge Otero Escobar, Stampede, 2014, Digital print, 53 ¼ x 35 ½ inches, Collection of David Borde ©Jorge Otero Escobar

Jennifer Odem, Earth Mound, 2006, Plaster, soil and brass pressure valve, 60 x 36 x 36 inches, Collection of the artist, ©Jennifer Odem

Diedrick Brackens, Study for Wading Still (Bend, Bow, Pull), 2018, Cotton dyed with Mississippi River water, Collection of the Artist ©Diedrick Brackens

Olafur Eliasson, The Hinged View, 2017, Steel, glass and paint, 59 x 106 3/8 x 29 ½ inches, New Orleans Museum of Art, Museum Purchase with funds provided by Sydney and Walda Besthoff, 2017.23 ©Courtesy of the Artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York

Mikhail Karikis, Children of Unquiet, 2015, Single channel video with directional speakers, Collection of the Artist ©2014 Mikhail Karikis

Cristina Molina, Under Three Things, 2018-19 Performance and digital print Collection of the Artist

 “Using earth both as a material and an inspiration, the artists in this exhibition treat nature as a metaphor for the complexities of contemporary cultural life,” said Susan Taylor, NOMA’s Montine McDaniel Freeman Director. “Their art envisions new ways we might relate to the natural world, as well as to one another.” 

Installation photo by Roman Blokhin.

Images courtesy New Orleans Museum of Art.