Miller Theatre Lobby Unveils New Installation by Colombian Artist Lina Puerta
This July, the Harlem-based Colombian-American artist Lina Puerta transforms the lobby of Miller Theatre with a new installation from her Botánico Series, inspired by weeds and uncontrolled nature within urban spaces.
Exploring the tension between humans and the botanical world, Puerta's ongoing series, which she started in 2010, evokes nature's resilient response amid efforts by humans to exert control.
Puerta installs the new artwork in Miller's lobby from July 10-14, 2017; it officially opens to the public on July 17 and will be on view through June 29, 2018.
From Miller Theatre Executive Director Melissa Smey: "The transformation of the Miller Theatre lobby has been a highlight of the last four seasons, as we've commissioned visual artists to use the lobby walls as their canvas. Each year has yielded a dramatically different creation, and each has been perfect for the space. This summer, Lina Puerta creates our fifth installation, from her Botánico series, inspired by the variety of uncontrolled nature found in urban spaces."
"I am interested in nature's capacity to reclaim space and break down artificial, human-made structures," says Puerta. "In this series, I use solely artificial/human-made plants that are normally designed to adorn and create maintenance-free gardens, which are static and under our absolute control." Utilizing a wide range of materials-including concrete, clay, wood, foam, fabric, paper pulp, handmade paper, and craft and recycled items-the result is a mimicking of weeds slowly spreading into abandoned spaces, exploring notions of control, consumerism and life's fragility.
"This is a moment to celebrate Puerta's innovative work. Her Miller Theatre installation will intervene the venerable walls of the hall with mysterious, sprouting new forms," says Deborah Cullen, Director and Chief Curator of the The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, which has co-commissioned the new work with Miller Theatre.
This year's site-specific exhibition is the fifth such collaboration between the Wallach Art Gallery and Miller Theatre. Puerta's installation succeeds Tomo Mori's Concerto Encircling that adorned the walls last season (and comes down June 30, 2017). Previous murals were created by Scherezade Garcia, Maya Hayuk and Vargas-Suarez Universal (see images below). Puerta's immersive installation will be displayed throughout the 2017-18 season, from July 17, 2017 - June 29, 2018, greeting thousands of concertgoers as they arrive for performances over the course of the year.
Puerta's work at Miller Theatre is presented in collaboration with UPTOWN, a new triennial curated by Cullen that surveys the work of artists who live or practice north of 99th Street in Manhattan (both Lina Puerta and Tomo Mori live in Harlem). UPTOWN is on view from June 2 - August 20, 2017 at the Wallach Art Gallery in its new location at the Lenfest Center for the Arts, 615 West 129th Street between Broadway and 12th Avenue, on Columbia University's Manhattanville campus.
Miller Theatre will host a creative conversation with Lina Puerta on October 17, 2017, co-sponsored by the Columbia University Arts Initiative.
Located on Broadway at 116th Street, the Miller Theatre lobby is open to the public during the summer Monday through Thursday, from 10am to 6pm, and Friday from 10am to 3pm. Gallery hours for the Wallach Art Gallery are Wednesday through Friday, 12pm to 8pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 12pm to 6pm.
About Lina Puerta (www.linapuerta.net): Lina Puerta, born in New Jersey and raised in Colombia, holds an MS in Art Education from Queens College/CUNY and has been the recipient of several residencies and grants including the 2016 Dieu Donné Workspace Residency, Artprize-8 Sustainability Award, 2015 Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Grant, 2015 Kohler Arts Industry Residency (WI), 2014-15 Keyholder Residency at the Lower East Side Printshop, 2013-14 Smack Mellon Art Studio Program, 2014 Materials for the Arts, 2013 Wave Hill Winter Workspace, and the 2010 Emerging Artist Fellowship at Socrates Sculpture Park in New York. Exhibition venues include The Museum of Biblical Art, El Museo del Barrio, Socrates Sculpture Park, Wave Hill, and Geary Contemporary in New York City, and Pi Artworks in London. Puerta's work has been written about in Hyperallergic, The New York Times, Wilder Quarterly, Sculpture Magazine, and Artnet News among others.
About The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery (www.columbia.edu/cu/wallach): The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery advances Columbia University's historical, critical, and creative engagement with the visual arts. Serving as both a laboratory and forum, The Wallach Art Gallery offers opportunities for curatorial practice and discourse while bridging the diverse approaches to the arts at the University with a broader public. Established in 1986, The Wallach Art Gallery is Columbia University's premier visual arts space. The gallery is a platform for critically acclaimed exhibitions, a dynamic range of programming, and publications that have made lasting contributions to scholarship.
About Miller Theatre at Columbia University (www.millertheatre.com): Miller Theatre at Columbia University is the leading presenter of new music in New York City and one of the most vital forces nationwide for innovative programming. In partnership with Columbia University School of the Arts, Miller is dedicated to producing and presenting unique events in dance, contemporary and early music, jazz, opera, and performance. Founded in 1988 with funding from John Goelet, Brooke Astor, and the Kathryn Bache Miller Fund, Miller Theatre has built a reputation for attracting new and diverse audiences to the performing arts and expanding public knowledge of contemporary music. Columbia University's Miller Theatre is located north of the Main Campus Gate
at 116th St. & Broadway on the ground floor of Dodge Hall.
Directions and information is available online at www.millertheatre.com or via the Miller Theatre Box Office, at 212.854.7799.
Pictured: Matorral, 2014 Lina Puerta. Site-specific Installation at the Museum of Biblical Art, New York for the exhibition: "Back to Eden: Contemporary Artists Wander the Garden".Photo by Gina Fuentes Walker. Image courtesy of MOBIA and the artist.