False Skins: Human and Nature Interaction at the Esther Tragout Exhibit

Delaney Worth, Contributing Writer

If you walk into the Downtown Art Gallery on Market Street without any clue of the exhibit inside, it can be a little perplexing.


Yellow, yarn-cloaked shapes line the walls and floors, or are kept in glass containers. Upon closer inspection, you may realize that these shapes look familiar. Is that a tree branch there? Is that a seed? Then it comes to you—these are objects of nature, crocheted over to cloak its natural skin.


Just a little ways down the road from campus, the Downtown Art Gallery showcases this interesting exhibit, which is meant to address the conflicting ways in which humans interact with nature, specifically “impulses to nurture and control nature,” as Public Programs and Outreach Manager Greg Stuart states on the museum blog.


But why crochet over nature?


“I cover objects of nature with crocheted threads in an attempt to ‘prop up’ or ‘put back’ what has been abandoned, broken,” Esther Traugot said in her Artist’s Statement. “The meticulous act of crocheting mimics the instinct to nurture and protect what is viable, what is becoming precious. As in gilding, these false ‘skins’ imbue the objects with an assumed desirability or value; the wrapping becomes an act of veneration.”


The exhibit, as with many of the artwork put up in the Samek Gallery, is also intended to pose questions to the community, such as, “How do we care for what we depend on?” It certainly is interesting to see nature displayed in such a way, enclosed by a man-made material that almost makes it difficult to identify.


The exhibit will be on display until March, and is certainly not one to be missed.

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