The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Environmental projects displayed at Haggerty Museum

The thing that serves as her canvas is also the thing she wants people to learn more about through her art — the environment.

Beginning Oct.16, representations of Agnes Denes’ work will be on display at the Haggerty Museum of Art in “Agnes Denes: Projects for Public Places.” Since

Denes’ works go beyond the realm of paintings and sculptures and uses land as the base for her creativity, 63 of her artistic works will be displayed in the forms of photographs, drawings and models for audiences to understand the magnitude of Denes’ environmental contributions.

While it may be difficult to understand how Denes’ projects constitute art, Denes essentially uses her works to do what every artist does — express her emotions and concerns for certain issues. By planting trees and making other contributions to the environment, Denes hopes to encourage more attentiveness to the issues that threaten the natural world.

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“Her work is aimed at creating awareness of environmental concerns, protection of forests, sorting out key themes that occur in nature and recur in the

modern environment,” said Curtis Carter, curator for the Haggerty. “She is causing us to think about how land effects the cultures that are built upon it.”

Carter said the museum expressed interest in the Hungarian-born artist because it had not recently focused on environmental artists, particularly those with Denes’ creativity. The idea for this exhibit was brought to Carter by the director of the Samek Art Gallery at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. Carter jumped

at the opportunity because he felt that Denes’ works could be relevant to students, faculty and outside visitors.

“We selected her because she is one the leading environmental artists of our time and has made significant contributions through her thinking and concepts,” Carter said. “We were eager to bring this experience to Marquette.

“We thought faculty in the different departments would find it useful and could incorporate it into their studies — the themes are applicable to everyone.”

Among the experiences being brought to Marquette is Denes’ project “Wheatfield—A Confrontation.” In May 1992, Denes was responsible for organizing the

planting of a two-acre wheatfield over a landfill a few blocks from Wall Street, in her resident New York City.

Four months after the planting, the field possessed over 1,000 pounds of wheat. The photograph illustrating this project shows a sharp contrast between the urban and the rural, as the wheatfield is shown with the New York skyline as its background.

“It shows how an urban landscape that has been desecrated can still have hope,” Carter said.

Another one of Denes’ works that will be represented pictorially is “Tree Mountain—A Living Time Capsule.”

The project involved collaborations to produce a man-made mountain of 11,000 trees planted by 11,000 people in Ylojarvi, Finland. The forest, planted in

gravel pits, will last 400 years, and is expected to protect against land erosion and provide residence for wildlife, according to information obtained from the


According to Carter, Denes’ tree project is perhaps one of her most interesting works because of the “monumental aspect of it.” Carter said that Denes’ art

is “closest to landscape architecture.” The exhibit displays Denes’ works from 1968 to the present. Plans for her future works will also be on display though Carter said the exhibit is “intended to be retrospective.”

Carter said Denes is well known in the international artistic world for her “extraordinary range in creativity.” He feels she can be separated from other

artists because she doesn’t “work with created materials,” but rather with nature. With the exception of landscape, Carter feels that incorporating nature

into art works is a somewhat lost practice and Denes recognizes this by having a “back and forth byplay between art and nature.”

“She combines aesthetic ideas with natural forms,” Carter said. “She’s taking ideas that might be ordinarily applied in paintings and is applying them

to nature.”

Perhaps it’s the distinctiveness of Denes’ art that has earned her so much international recognition. She is the recipient of many prestigious art awards from universities all over the world and has also received the National Endowment for the Arts Individual Artist Fellowship.

“Agnes Denes: Projects for Public Spaces” begins on Thursday and will run through Jan.4. Thursday’s opening night will feature a lecture by the artist herself at 6 p.m. at the Helfaer Theatre with a reception following at the Haggerty.

The Haggerty Museum of Art is open on Monday-Wednesday, Friday-Saturday 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and Thursday from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday hours are noon-5 p.m.