Things are looking up.
At least they are in Guild Hall’s gardens.
“Cloud Garden,” a site-specific outdoor installation and community project by East Hampton artist Monica Banks, features delicate, ethereal tangles of wire, deer fencing, and other materials, coupled with multicolored artifacts from the artist’s everyday life, to create mobiles that bring together the childlike love of cloud gazing with the poignancy of art created during a pandemic.
“When Christina Strassfield invited me to do something to activate the Furman Garden, it seemed natural to incorporate the trees somehow,” said Banks. “I’ve installed outdoor clouds in private settings before, and was thrilled to have this opportunity to do a larger installation in a public space. There’s an optimism and freedom about the trees—the ever-changing light, the gentle breeze, and outdoor space where we can safely socialize; it’s a privilege to celebrate that with my work.”
The “Cloud” series started in 2006, when Banks received boxes of toys, trinkets, and other mementos from her childhood, and united those fragments from her past with tokens of her present life into jumbled memory “clouds” that gave meaning to her history through kinetic sculpture.
Now she has returned with a new series of mobiles, inserting, this time around, the minutia of domestic life unearthed during a prolonged quarantine. Orphaned socks, the remnants of a sculpture she made for her infant son almost a quarter-century ago, tufts of fur from her new puppy (along with pieces of the Nerf ball he demolished)—these and a plethora of other colorful and meaningful objects highlight how housebound artists have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Right now my process entails making art to survive and making sense of the many current crises swirling around us,” said Banks. “Revisiting the ‘Cloud’ series, which originally incorporated souvenirs of my young family and my own childhood, was a natural way to work with this material.”
And speaking of childhood, Banks embarks on her role as Community-Artist-In-Residence by sharing her work and process through remote workshops with children from The Bridgehampton Childcare & Recreational Center.
“Each child will receive a box of materials,” Banks said. “We are also telling them to bring in some artifacts from home—things that remind them of this moment, or a memory. I’m really looking forward to seeing all the wonderful surprises,” she said. The cloud sculptures created by the kids will be part of an expanded installation in Guild Hall’s Minikes Garden, with its own opening on Saturday, September 19.
Through reinventing her past work, incorporating commonplace, close-at-hand objects, Monica Banks has created the unusual and elegant sculptures in the trees in the Guild Hall garden which, like real clouds, offer a fresh perspective from every angle, a chance for visitors to engage with nature and their own imagination, and one artist’s visual record of this extraordinary time.
“Cloud Garden” is curated by Guild Hall’s Museum Director/Chief Curator Christina Strassfield. The Project Coordinator is Anthony Madonna, the Patti Kenner Fellow in Arts Education.
The exhibit is free and open to the public, and on view during regular Museum hours, Friday to Monday, 12–5 pm, through October 12, 2020. The Guild Hall gardens are self-monitoring spaces; we ask that patrons observe proper physical-distancing, observe maximum capacity signage, and wear face-coverings on the grounds.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Monica Banks created “Faces: Times Square,” a block-long sculpture which stood in Times Square from 1996-2009, for which she won an award from The Public Design Commission of the City of New York. Her permanent public works are located in the Bronx, Binghamton NY, Charlotte NC, and West Nyack NY. She has done site-specific installations at The Carriage House at the Islip Art Museum, The Rockland County Center for the Arts, The American Craft Museum, Spring Break Art Show, and other venues. Permanent collections holding her work include the Parrish Art Museum, The University Museum of Contemporary Art at University of Mass. Amherst, the Islip Art Museum, and the Daura Gallery at Lynchburg College.
The artist has won awards for recent work from Jocelyn Miller, assistant curator at MOMA PS1; Benjamin Genocchio, former art critic for The New York Times; Marla Prather while curator in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art NYC; and the curators at the Heckscher Museum of Art. Her work has recently been featured in The New York Times, Brooklyn Rail, Smithsonian Magazine, Timeout New York, The Baltimore Sun, East Hampton Star, Sag Harbor Express, and Hamptons Art Hub. In 2016 Jorge Pardo selected her work to be shown alongside his own at the Parrish Art Museum “Artists Choose Artists,” and she has had solo or dual shows at Sara Nightingale Gallery in Sag Harbor every year since 2015. https://www.monicabanks.com
ABOUT GUILD HALL’S
Banks joins three other local artists— Viv Corringham, Lindsay Morris, and Rosario Varela—as an inaugural Guild Hall Community-Artist-in-Residence. Given either an indoor exhibition space or outdoor performance and/or installation site on the Guild Hall campus, the artists will work with community groups to devise, create, and develop new work to be on view through the Summer and Fall months. Artists were chosen based on the community aspect of their work and a history or interest in public practice.
Education Programming supported by The Patti Kenner Arts Education Fellowship, Lucy and Steven Cookson, and The Wunderkinder Foundation, with additional funding by Kate W. Cassidy Foundation, Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Endowment Fund, Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation, and The Melville Straus Family Endowment.
Museum Programming supported in part by The Melville Straus Family Endowment, The Michael Lynne Museum Endowment, Crozier Fine Arts, The Lorenzo and Mary Woodhouse Trust, an anonymous donor, and public funds provided by New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature
This project and installation is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, and Jackson Dodds & Company, Inc.