Mixed Media, 2011
Excerpt from the exhibition text:
In her Sunroom Project at Wave Hill
, Claudia Weber explores transitions between the interior of Glyndor House and the surrounding landscape while she considers the property’s contextual shift from privileged domicile to public garden and cultural institution.
Weber’s project takes its title from the name of the Victorian-style villa that originally stood on the site of the current Glyndor House. Nonesuch was built in the 1860s by Oliver Harriman, a New York financier, and its name connotes its peerless presence and ideal setting. However, the word could also imply “no such thing,” thus evoking the realm of the imaginary and fantastical.
The artist uses a mixed-media, site-specific approach to address the transformation of living, botanical matter into a wide spectrum of architectural and cultural representations, reaching from the idealized and exclusive, to the pragmatic and mundane. At the center of the Sunroom is a sculptural assemblage consisting of various materials, including glass, wood, and paint. The layers of the sculpture both frame and integrate the objects while heightening awareness of the substance of the building’s interior and its surrounding gardens.
On the north wall of the Sunroom is an enlarged photograph of a collection of materials that features a multi-colored set of architectural samples in the form of the acanthus leaf. This imported plant is present amongst the foliage in the Wave Hill grounds, while architectural elements inspired by the form of its leaves can be found inside Glyndor House. The acanthus leaf has been a mainstay in architectural decoration since it was used by the ancient Greeks on the capitals of columns from the Corinthian order, and through its prevalence has become both paradigmatic and abstracted to the point where the original source, the living plant, can itself be considered a “nonesuch.”
The show was preceded by a public tour that I gave within the Glyndor House: The tour was based on experimental
explorations that challenged conventional readings of the building’s architectural elements and recontextualized them
in relation to contemporary culture and the concept of the garden.