press release

In her first solo museum exhibition in the United States, Irish artist Katie Holten joins the Contemporary as an artist-in-residence creating her largest and most ambitious exhibition to date. The exhibition is a new site-specific indoor installation comprised of sculpture, drawings, and an outdoor performance that collectively explores global ecology and social gestures within moments of environmental crisis. Interested in our fragile ecology from an international perspective—while also considering local concerns—Holten’s work is a creative, aesthetic proposition for community friendly solutions. Holten renders nature essential, and in the process asks individuals and communities to ponder their natural environment and consider human fragility in an uncertain future.

Katie Holten collaborates with communities around the globe to raise awareness of environmental issues through a visual consideration into nature. Her exhibitions heighten a sense of urgency and action through beautifully rendered work that expresses the fragile ecology of local environments. Acknowledging scarce natural resources and the importance of recycling in her work, Holten will install a large tree—life size replica of a native Missouri tree such as a White Oak—in the Contemporary’s exhibition space. Constructed from reconstituted waste materials (cardboard, paper, wire, tape) collected from the Contemporary, this sculptural object – built on site during her residency in St. Louis – will fill almost the entire gallery space, from floor to ceiling. Viewers will be able to walk right up to the tree, where they will be eye level with the roots and the tree trunk and the crown will loom above. Visually, the tree will powerfully seem to pull the viewer in to take a closer look to examine its artificiality and consider its drama in and out of the natural world. More specifically, the work asks the viewer to evaluate what is left of the area’s wider natural heritage (the starting place of Lewis and Clark’s journey westward and a former prairie) and to consider what our impact has been on the landscape of this region since then. Holten effectively addresses environmental and social questions in a most compellingly way that ultimately expresses human vulnerability.

Paths of Desire is organized by the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis and is made possible through the generous support of the Arts Council of Ireland, Nimoy Foundation, Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation, and Culture Ireland. Community outreach programming for Paths of Desire is supported by the Monsanto Fund. General support for the Contemporary's exhibitions and educational programming is provided by the Whitaker Foundation; William E. Weiss Foundation; Regional Arts Commission; Arts and Education Council; Missouri Arts Council, a state agency; and members of the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.

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