Review: “The Nature of Nature” exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Art

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There is no denying that the Minneapolis Institute of Art’s exhibition “The Nature of Nature” is well located in Minnesota.

This is a Community Voices submission and is moderated but not edited. The opinions expressed by Community Voices contributors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the TC Daily Planet.

According to the Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota is home to 67 state parks that include 1,234 miles of trail. In 2012, Minnesota’s state parks hosted nearly 8 million visitors – many of whom were Minnesota residents, according to the DNR. An appreciation for nature clearly exists in this beautiful state, and this exhibition explores this interest on a broad scale.

When I visited the exhibition, it was clear that the displays are united around larger considerations of our human interaction with nature. Descriptions posted in each of the 10 galleries explain the theme of the installations within each hall, and link them to the exhibition as a whole.

Among the topics discussed are nature’s impact on religion, the manipulation and harnessing of nature, the influence of humanity on the environment, migration, and the human search for enlightenment and solace within nature. One of the galleries focuses on objects of art from natural materials, while another focuses on the stories that soils can tell about human history. I found it interesting that birds of prey received a special gallery and carried a huge place in the overall exhibition. The characteristics and skills that eagles, owls, and other great birds possess are put on display in ways that ask for a viewer’s consideration.

For me, the most thought-provoking installation in the entire exhibition is a pair of designer Christian Louboutin stilettos covered in delicate porcupine quillwork and beading. Decorated by artist Jaime Okuma, the stilettos are placed next a pair of moccasins made and decorated by Sarah Hardisty. Although the shoes were decorated with similar materials, they represent two ways of connecting with the earth – one pair with a precarious balance, and the other firmly connected with the soil. For one pair, natural materials are an accessory, while the other pair finds those materials crucial to their existence. It is a clear visual reminder of how individuals connect with nature at different levels, and an embodiment of the spirit of this exhibition.

For more information about the Minneapolis Institute of Art’s “The Nature of Nature” exhibition, Minnesota’s own natural wonders, or Jaime Okuma’s work, please see the links below.

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