Social Studies, Science, and Art Education Mark Dion: TroubleshootingUSF Contemporary Art MuseumJanuary 13 – March 3, 2012
What other purposes can these items serve (other than their original intended purpose)? Mesh Produce Bags Soap Slivers Old Light Bulbs
Old items…new Purposes! Soap Slivers become… Mesh Produce Bags become… kitchen scrubbies Old Light Bulbs become… vases and candleholders
Mark Dion Mark Dion • creates drawings, prints, cabinets of curiosity, and installations • often uses “found objects” in his works • deals with important social and environmental issues
About the artist • Mark Dion was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, in 1961. He received a BFA (1986) and an honorary doctorate (2003) from the University of Hartford, School of Art, Connecticut. • Dion’s work examines the ways our understanding of history, knowledge, and the natural world are shaped. “The job of the artist,” he says, “is to go against the grain of dominant culture, to challenge perception and convention.” • He has received numerous awards, including the ninth annual Larry Aldrich Foundation Award (2001). He has had major exhibitions at Miami Art Museum (2006); the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2004); and the Tate Gallery, London (1999). "Neukom Vivarium” (2006), a permanent outdoor installation and learning lab for the Olympic Sculpture Park, was commissioned by the Seattle Art Museum. • Dion lives and works in Pennsylvania.
Troubleshooting • Troubleshooting: to solve problems, usually serious problems • ecologically-themed artwork • special focus on Florida
South Florida Wildlife Rescue Unit: Mobile Laboratory, 2006 • comprehensive installation piece • an emergency truck for threatened species • Dion’s truck would enable activists to rescue endangered flora • includes safari-like clothing and bait for invasive animal species • also displays historical images by American botanist John Kunkel Small (1869-1938)of pillaged orchids, bromeliads, and cacti
The South Florida Wildlife Rescue Unit: Mobile Laboratory, 2006 Mixed media installation (wood, steel, paint on expanded PVC, Plexiglas, masonite, assorted truck parts and wheels, diamond plated rubber floor mat, vinyl decals, stainless steel poles, and assorted objects) 18 feet, 11 inches x 7 feet, 7 inches x 8 feet, 11 inches Collection Miami Art Museum, gift of Lin Lougheed
Detail from: The South Florida Wildlife Rescue Unit: Mobile Laboratory, 2006 John Kunkel Small Automobile Loaded with Plant Specimens, 1927 Image Courtesy of State Archives of Florida
Detail from: The South Florida Wildlife Rescue Unit: Mobile Laboratory, 2006 John Kunkel Small The “Weed Wagon” with a Load of Orchids, Ferns and Bromeliads (Ross Hammock, Florida), 1915 Image Courtesy of State Archives of Florida
The South Florida Wildlife Rescue Unit: The Uniforms, 2006 Two mannequins, clothing, custom patches, assorted gear, dimensions variable Collection Miami Art Museum, gift of Lin Lougheed
“Artists have tools that scientists don’t have… humor, irony, metaphor… these are the bread and butter of the artist.” • What do the words “humor,”“irony,” and “metaphor” mean? • Consider the work Travels of William Bartram Reconsidered (alligator cabinet) with this quotation in mind.
Travels of William Bartram Reconsidered (alligator cabinet), 2008 Found alligators in various media, painted wood and glass cabinet, 73 x 13 x 39 ½ inches Courtesy of the Artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York, NY
Questions forTravels of William Bartram Reconsidered (alligator cabinet) • What does the work say about alligators and the ways in which these native Florida creatures are depicted in popular imagery? • What does this say about the way we think about and treat our natural environment and the animals that live in it? • How does Dion use humor, irony and metaphor in this work to get his point across?
Mark Dion quote • “I’m an artist who holds up a mirror to the present.” • What do you think Dion means by this?