All yours, naturally


Set apart from the Hyde Park Art Center’s other exhibits in two connected second-floor galleries, Catherine Forster’s They Call Me Theirs examines the bond that humans feel to nature, and how that link is manufactured and distorted. Forster, a School of the Art Institute graduate exhibiting at HPAC for the first time, titled her installation, up through October 3, after a Ralph Waldo Emerson poem in which the Earth asks, “How am I theirs / If they cannot hold me, / But I hold them?”

The first gallery contains what the artist calls a “hanging garden” of inkjet prints from digital film stills of flowers and trees. Forster magnified and painted the images, then digitized them again. She printed the images on the kind of aluminum panels usually used for street signs. They hang in a white gallery, with two park benches arranged to view the art on the walls. Huge in scale, the prints depict a nature vibrant with colorful flourishes and stand out from the white wall.

Beyond the first gallery’s blatantly manufactured image of nature, another room beckons—speakers project the sound of a cityscape, and a cabin built with sturdy solid pine (salvaged from the 1905 Chicago Sears building at 3333 W. Arthington Street) looms in the middle of the black-box room. The small structure has wide windows on its sides and a door that swings open to reveal a nearly bare interior. After entering, a visitor hears the sounds of a field or a forest, and in the center of the room a small monitor shows digital film footage of flowers and trees from all four seasons. The peaceful cabin attempts to contain nature neatly, and its purpose, Forster writes, is to “question the distinctions we make between the natural and mediated worlds."

Rose Schapiro, '09

Photos: The cabin stands in the center of the second gallery; the monitor projects image of spring.

Photos courtesy the Hyde Park Art Center.

August 13, 2008