Dwell Recommends: Storm King Art Center

Dwell Recommends: Storm King Art Center

By Dora Vanette
Storm King Art Center offers two new reasons to visit Upstate New York in the upcoming months.

As spring seems to have finally come to stay, New Yorkers are venturing out to enjoy the many outdoor events and cultural offerings in the area. Storm King Art Center is leading the way by presenting two new exhibitions, "Evoking Tradition" by Chinese artist Zhang Huan and "Outlooks" by Brooklyn-based Virginia Overton.

Zhang Huan explains that the idea behind "Three Legged Buddha" was juxtaposing "two forces, one from heaven, one from earth, merging them together, but also putting them together as opposite forces." Storm King Art Center, gift of Zhang Huan and Pace Gallery. Photo: Jerry L. Thompson, © Zhang Huan Studio, courtesy Pace Gallery.

Huan, primarily known for his performance art, presents over 15 sculptures, older works as well as site-specific pieces. Sculptures made from ash gathered from Buddhist temples hold particular value for the artist. "The incense ashes are not like any medium that artists use, for me, the ashes represent the collective strength of a nation, their collective spirit, their wishes, their soul. And so, to me, they are sacred," says Huan. Outside in the grass lie six large-scale works, fragments of Buddha’s body that seem at once monumental and contemplative.

Zhang's "Three Legged Buddha" towers over the surrounding landscape. Photo: Jerry L. Thompson, © Zhang Huan Studio, courtesy Pace Gallery.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is the towering copper and steel sculpture, "Three Legged Buddha." Twenty-eight feet high and weighing more than twelve tons, it was first displayed at the Royal Academy in London before becoming a part of Storm King in 2010.

Huan draws from traditional meanings of gates as transitional pathways linking life and death. Image courtesy of Pace Gallery.

While Huan’s pieces preside over a small hill, Virginia Overton presents a 400-foot-long brass tube in the sprawling field that opens up below the Center. The sculpture sinuously curves along the land, responding not only to the site but also to its seasonal changes. If you don’t get a chance to see the work in the spring, once the hay rises up in the summer the sculpture will seem even more ethereal as a flickering golden line floating above the grass.

Zhang Huan's work will be displayed at Storm King Art Center from May 3 to November 9, 2014. Image courtesy of Pace Gallery.

Peace No. 2, from 2001, is the earliest work in the exhibition. Zhang designed it while living in New York and sent instructions back to China, where it was fabricated. This 20-foot-tall bronze sculpture comprises of a gold-leaf replica of Zhang’s body dangling from the center of a traditional Buddhist bell. Image courtesy of Pace Gallery.

Virginia Overton's brass sculpture follows the undulations of the Storm King site. Photo courtesy of Storm King Art Center.

Overton's installation has an interactive aspect to it, as the visitors can talk back and forth through the pipe. Image courtesy of Storm King Art Center.


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