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LANDING: Ben Altman, Patrick Costello, Hannah Bakken Morris, Ash Ferlito, Diane Schenandoah & Daniela Molnar

September 14, 2023 @ 4:30 pm - October 26, 2023 @ 6:30 pm

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Landing presents six artists exploring reparative links between people and place.  

The central question is, what is repair?  The artists in this exhibition share the perspective that repair is cyclical and ongoing, not as simple as a mend or a fix.  Their work suggests that while repair might begin with the acknowledgement of a break or wound, its longer-term outcomes are intuited, hoped for or believed in, rather than known.  In asking how to live and work in right relation to land, the artists featured in Landing do not prescribe or formalize any easy answers for us.  Repair may always be ambiguous and incomplete; thus, this exhibition represents an incomplete collection of eco-poetic gestures between landscapes, identities, and legacies in a moment of profound climatic and social shift.  Landing proposes that such incompleteness is in fact a welcoming in.

Diane Schenandoah’s The Great Tree of Peace is a beautifully practical invitation; Schenandoah [Oneida] shares the culture and history of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, creates a space for contemplation, and offers perching and nesting habitat for grassland birds. For Ash Ferlito, the gaze is a way in. The act of noticing is in and of itself profound and intimate – a portal into a teeming world of surprising yet familiar entities that, once noticed, call urgently for our consideration. What and how we notice is central to Hannah Bakken Morris’ fence post intervention Words to That Effect, which mimics yet subverts the standard iconography of land ownership, inviting in rather than excluding. Transformation and alchemy are also explored as forms of repair.  Patrick Costello turns to the process of composting as something both grounding and celebratory; he proposes decay and rot as a source of joyful and queer utopian possibility. Daniela Naomi Molnar collects and grinds stones and plants to use as pigment, wondering whether it is possible to transmute memories that live in the earth itself.  Moving at the deliberate speed of a forest, Ben Altman’s long-term collaboration with 38 acres of woods asks: what are our responsibilities?  How will we take them up?

The site of Wells College is a Gayogohó:nǫˀ village called Chonodote – “Peach Town” – where the inhabitants tended over a thousand thriving peach trees. On September 24, 1779 the village became the last one to be destroyed by the Clinton-Sullivan Campaign, under the command of William Butler. The Gayogohó:nǫˀ people were violently driven away; anything (crops, trees, longhouses) that made living here possible and beautiful was burned or destroyed. The land was divided up and in many cases, given to soldiers who had participated in the campaign as payment. At Wells College, for the past eight autumns, a peach tree has been planted on the President’s lawn. The planting is done by members of the SHARE (Strengthening Haudenosaunee and American Relations through Education) Farm, the Gayogohó:nǫˀ Nation, and the college.

Can planting a single tree repair such a wound?  We don’t know.  Regardless, we are graciously invited to be present, to learn, to witness, and to begin to heal.  Landing was organized in conversation with and in celebration of this generous spirit of repair, offering gestures that are both symbolic and practical, as well as incomplete, impractical, and hopeful.

Thursday, Sept 14, 4:30-6:30pm – Opening Reception – at 5:15pm, join Diane Schenandoah [Oneida] outside for the planting of The Great Tree of Peace.

Thursday, Oct 26, 4:30-6:00pm – Closing Reception – starring a giant cake shaped like Patrick Costello’s monumental sculpture Piping, baked by Ben Simon!

All are welcome!


Landing was made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

Start: September 14, 2023 - 4:30 pm
End: October 26, 2023 - 6:30 pm
Venue: Wells College
Location: 170 Main Street
Aurora, NY 13026 United States

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