Paul Gaugin may have titled his Tahitian masterpiece, “Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?” but Highfield Hall’s “Portals and Passageways” exhibition does an equally commendable job of illustrating the idea.
On display until September 7, “Portals and Passageways” exhibits three-dimensional pieces from 24 artists in 21 installations, most of which are outside on the grounds of the museum.
In the show program, curator Annie Dean describes the inspiration for the show as serving as “a reminder [for us] to take the time to stop and to contemplate the world around us.”
The artists interpret the portals and passageways theme in all manner of different ways using a variety of mediums as well as incorporating the natural landscaping of the museum’s property.
Dan DiNardo’s “Celestial Passage Walking Labyrinth” looks direct but is in actuality circuitous; a gentle reminder that the path of life is rarely a straight line.
“Crystal Vision” is another contemplative ground arrangement, this time of crystals and stones, set within a circle of larger rocks in what’s known as the Beech Tree Path section of Highfield’s grounds.
In addition to their outward natural beauty many of the crystals are believed to be imbued with certain properties: rose quartz for love, amethyst for wisdom. “I’m hoping the work helps people break down their own personal barriers,” explained the creator of the work, artist Cynthia Rose.
Perhaps the most contemplative piece is one that could easily be missed by anyone in a rush—which might be part of the point. “Hither and Yon” by Salley Mavor is a literal piece, cursive words, created in wire and then felted, and suspended between the branches of one of Highfield’s beech trees. For the young and the young at heart it’s reminiscent of
“Charlotte’s Web” and encourages its viewers to again consider that although everybody is always coming and going, what is it we are we doing, right now?
Artist John Moore has created portals to the past and paid homage to the original owners of Highfield Hall with “Past Presences,” ghostly photographic images of the Beebe family transferred onto stones in the property’s Rhodie Dell.
Over the course of the two-month exhibit, Mr. Moore said, he expects that the images will deteriorate. “That’s part of the process,” he explained.
Simple yet effective, Andrea Thompson’s piece, “Whose Woods These Are” consists of tall, thin mirrors placed in a grove of trees off the Beech Tree Path. They are almost invisible until a passerby catches her own reflection in the glass. The thin mirrored images remind viewers of their own tenuous presence in this world that they are just passing through.
Creating a portal into the entire exhibit itself are a number of yarn-bombed trees on the front lawn at Highfield and along Highfield Drive for visitors approaching the museum.
An art form that has caught on in many cities as a way to brighten up urban vistas, the colorful trees create a Wonderland type of feel.
Other installations are lovely and affecting, especially Danielle Krcmar’s “Fragment House,” Angela Tanner’s “Wind in the Door,” and Sarah Peters’s colorfully cascading “Water Study in Silk and White Pines.”
Take the time to see the show for yourself and be transported for an afternoon.