June 21 - July 31, 2023
From the organizers:
“Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts is pleased to announce “Post-Natural Landscape,” a solo exhibition by Artist in Residence, Preston Gaines. Opening on June 21 with an evening reception and continuing throughout the month of July, “Post-Natural Landscape,” explores the intricate relationship between humans, technology, and the environment. The exhibition is hosted by the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design at the Univeristy of Houston in Mashburn Gallery. Additionally, three large-scale companion works will be on view at Blaffer Art Museum.
“Post-Natural Landscape” presents a rich anthology of works born out of Gaines’ residency at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts and informed by current architectural theories, which posits that the human influence on the environment has rendered ‘untouched’ nature an obsolete concept. In this new environmental reality, landscapes, transformed by human intervention and technological advancement, have evolved into a new form of nature, no longer entirely natural.
The exhibition creatively bridges the gap between the organic and synthetic, mirroring Gaines’ deep engagement with the local community and his innovative experimentation with new materials and techniques during his residency, where he was provided studio space at Elgin Street Studios by the Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts at the University of Houston.
Commenting on his experience as Artist in Residence, Gaines reflects, “This exhibition is a meditative exploration of the complex interplay between nature and technology. The residency period allowed me to dive deep into these themes, challenging myself and now, the viewers, to contemplate how our actions are influencing the future of our planet.”
The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts, along with its collaborators, extends a warm invitation to experience “Post-Natural Landscape” and engage in this critical conversation about our collective environmental future.
The opening reception, June 21 at Mashburn Gallery from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., offers guests the opportunity to interact with the artist while enjoying refreshments provided by the Saint Arnold Brewery, who will be contributing in kind donations for the reception. Blaffer Arts Museum will extend its hours for the opening, allowing visitors to move freely between the two exhibition spaces.
About Preston Gaines:
Preston Gaines, also recognized by his artist name Inanimate Nature, is a Houston-based artist, architect, and industrial designer represented by Barbara Davis Gallery. His diverse body of work, including sculpture, projection mapping, and interactive installations, challenges traditional artistic norms, giving voice to his innovative explorations at the crossroads of technology and the natural world.
At the heart of Gaines’ practice lies his compelling engagement with the theory of “Post-Natural Landscapes.” This theory, which has become more refined and significant during his Artist in Residence at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts, addresses the undeniable human impact on the environment. It proposes that our understanding of untouched nature has evolved into landscapes intricately transformed by human intervention and technological progress. This shift results in a captivating melding of the organic and synthetic, a central theme in his work.
Gaines employs an artistic language of geometry, nature, and sacred symbolism. Drawing inspiration from ancient cultures such as Kemet, he aligns their symbolic designs tied to self-development and spiritual journeys with his contemporary techniques. His unique fusion of traditional and digital media births installations and artworks that act as catalysts for introspection, inviting viewers to embark on transformative journeys of interpretation and reflection.
As a Black artist rooted in Texas, Gaines’ cultural and historical context significantly informs his practice. He demonstrates unwavering commitment to community engagement and social responsibility, particularly within Houston’s historic black communities. His works reflect his personal experiences and perspectives while also striking a universal chord with themes of interconnectedness, the influence of technology, and the inherent beauty within the natural world.
In his most recent role as the Artist in Residence at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts, and through the forthcoming exhibition at Mashburn Gallery, Gaines continues to deepen his artistic practice. His experimental and engaging artistry offers viewers a new lens through which to perceive our post-natural world. It extends an invitation to participate in a critical dialogue about our collective environmental future, echoing the ethos of his residency experience.”
Reception: June 21, 2023 | 6–9 pm