The Staff of Asclepias open in Dallas and Corsicana
Collaborative exhibit dedicated to preserving monarch butterflies
Collaborators include SMU’s Pollock Gallery, RISO BAR,
Sweet Pass Sculpture Park and Corsicana Artist & Writer Residency
DALLAS (SMU) --- Four arts organizations are collaborating on an exhibition titled The Staff of Asclepias, dedicated to preserving the monarch butterfly, which is running concurrently at the ANTEROOM gallery in Corsicana, Texas, and at Sweet Pass Sculpture Park in Dallas through August 1, 2020. At each location, the exhibition is meant to be experienced at a safe distance through a window, from a car, or by appointment.The collaborators are SMU’s Pollock Gallery and the Sweet Pass Sculpture Park in Dallas; the Corsicana Artist & Writer Residency in Corsicana; and publishing initiative RISO BAR. The exhibition is curated by Pollock Gallery curator Sofia Bastidas and RISO BAR co-founder May Makki.
The Staff of Asclepias is a social and environmental sculpture conceived by artist Erik DeLucaduring his stay at the Corsicana Artist & Writer Residency (also known as 100W), which offers residencies to artists and writers from around the world. DeLuca worked with several members of the Corsicana community to design a series of way stations for the monarch butterfly. The monarch is the Texas state insect and has fascinated DeLuca since he arrived in Texas from his native Rhode Island.
DeLuca converted the Samuels Building, an 1880s mercantile building two blocks from 100W, into a nursery for milkweed. Because monarch caterpillars feed exclusively on the plant, adult butterflies migrating north from Mexico in the spring depend on it to lay their eggs. The growing scarcity of milkweed in the wild has contributed to a drastic 80% decrease in the monarch population. The milkweed DeLuca raised – some 1,000 plants – has been distributed to Hebrew Cemetery and park land in Corsicana and to Sweet Pass Sculpture Park. The exhibit title references the scientific genus of the milkweed, Asclepias.
The exhibition at the ANTEROOM, a window gallery across the street from 100W, includes a sample table with milkweed and a magenta grow light from the Samuels Building nursery and a rendition of the song Sunrise, Sunset from Fiddler on the Roof playing at dusk and dawn. The exhibition at Sweet Pass Sculpture Park includes some 300 of the milkweed plants raised by the artist, which he invited people to plant at the park in early June in accordance with social distancing measures. The milkweed garden is accompanied by a time-based light and sound installation that plays daily at sunrise and sunset. It includes the same rendition of the song at the ANTEROOM and a 100-plus-foot horizontal white LED light sculpture suspended above the ground, invoking the staff of Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine and healing. The north-south line of the light sculpture gestures toward the monarchs’ migratory path from Mexico to Canada while conveying ideas of prosperity, health and rejuvenation.
Bastidas said the project exemplifies the Pollock Gallery’s goal of expanding its programming beyond its walls to provide additional opportunities for SMU art students and the community to broaden their understanding of public art and community engagement.
“The Staff of Asclepias isambitious in both scale and impact,” said Bastidas. “It engages with questions of migration and the powerful indirect interactions that can control entire ecosystems. DeLuca’s endeavor to place nature’s patterns at the center of his work offers a new possibility of solidarity, as he dedicates his practice to the service and understanding of vital non-human networks.”
The Staff of Asclepias is accompanied by a publication with contributions by DeLuca and Bastidas, as well as by SMU visiting lecturer in art Tamara Johnson and Trey Burns, founders of Sweet Pass Sculpture Park, and SMU art alumnus Kyle Hobratschk (’11), founder of 100W and the ANTEROOM. The publication was produced by RISO BAR and designed by Juliette Kang.
The ANTEROOM gallery is located at 411 N. Beaton Street in Corsicana (75110). The exhibit is on view through the front window. For updates, visit ANTEROOM’s website.
About Erik DeLuca
Erik DeLuca is an artist and musician working with performance, sculpture, text and social practice. He has lectured, performed and exhibited at a variety of places including MASS MoCA, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, The Contemporary Austin, The Living Art Museum (Iceland), Columbia School of the Arts, Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture, CalArts, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Fieldwork: Marfa, Yale University School of Art, and Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church in New York City. He received a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia and held visiting professorships at the Iceland University of the Arts (2016-18) and Brown University (2018-20).
About the Curators
Sofia Bastidas works under the auspices of the Ignite/Arts Dallas initiative at SMU Meadows School of the Arts. She is conducting research with CultureBank, an initiative that places artists and their enterprises at the center of community investment strategies, and is working on two other major exhibitions and public art projects around affordable housing and criminal justice. She is the co-founder of the nomadic curatorial research program Port to Port and the political design company TVGOV, which recently participated in the 9th Berlin Biennale and received grants from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. As the current SMU Meadows curatorial fellow and Pollock Gallery director, Bastidas has curated diverse and dynamic programs from radio shows exploring the future of solar energy to creating co-working spaces for alternative forms of education. Her work focuses on supporting existing platforms that engage cultural discourses that catapult creative co-production, communication and sustainable forms of organizing. Bastidas holds a B.A. in art history and communications from Florida International University and an M.A. in sustainability and development from the SMU Lyle School of Engineering.
May Makki is an artist and curator interested in the relationship between art and collaborative systems and practices. Most recently, Makki co-founded RISO BAR, a publishing initiative and cooperative space that facilitates collaboration and experimentation using risograph technology. She has a B.A. in art history from the University of Chicago.
ANTEROOM is a window-front gallery across the street from the entrance of the Corsicana Artist & Writer Residency (100W). The gallery hosts work relevant to 100W’s evolving narrative, which is shaped by 100W’s residents and studio spaces and the small-town environment of Corsicana, Texas. ANTEROOM is positioned in front of a printmaking and drafting studio, which is in front of a domestic room used occasionally for gallery entertaining, which opens into a back patio. For more information, visit the ANTEROOM website.
About Sweet Pass Sculpture Park
Founded in 2018 by Tamara Johnson and Trey Burns, Sweet Pass Sculpture Park is a 501(c)(3) organization located on an acre lot in West Dallas. Its programming highlights emerging and mid-career artists in an outdoor setting on a rotating basis with a focus on project-based exhibitions. Sweet Pass is dedicated to experimentation and community engagement, with the goal of offering thought-provoking, contemporary art in a free and public venue. In addition, Sweet Pass has an initiative for education and outreach focused on fostering dialogue about the ideas and objects present in the park. For more information, visit www.sweetpasssculpturepark.com.
The Corsicana Artist & Writer Residency, located an hour south of Dallas at 100 W. 3rd Street in Corsicana (hence the name 100W), is a nonprofit international residency for artists and writers, founded in 2012 by SMU Meadows art alumni Kyle Hobratschk, Travis LaMothe, Adrienne Lichliter, Anna Membrino and David Searcy. Large-scale, light-filled rooms are provided alongside complete living accommodations and wood shop access to foster work in visual art or writing. 100W provides open studio and presentation events, student engagement activities, workshops, museum partnerships, resident projects and publications and more. Due to its popularity, the residency program is growing to include other sites in Corsicana.
About RISO BAR
RISO BAR is a publishing initiative and cooperative space that facilitates collaboration and experimentation using risograph technology. It is designed for communal gathering and collective learning between designers, artists, writers, educators and students. For more information visit www.risobar.net.