Currier Gallery of Art Catalog, July 1998

"Adventures in Form, Space and Imagination"

Catalog Essay
by Kurt J. Sunstrom

Beth Galston's installations involve non-traditional materials that acknowledge and respond to existing elements such as architecture, natural light and soaring space. Presently, Galston is exploring the complex relationships between nature and our perception of its beauty. Using natural materials reordered in an artificial environment, Galston reconstructs their natural appearance thereby deconstructing our preconceived notions about nature. The resulting presentation encourages the viewer to reevaluate familiary objects with renewed interest.

Taxonomy is an ambitious examination of "unnatural" nature and the intervention of the human hand. It is also a celebration of the leaf, the acorn, the seed pod and the flower petal. Each element of the installation has been preserved and recast in an unnatural setting. Some leaves have been laminated and thus preserved at the height of their fall color. The remaining leaves, flowers, petal, seed pods and acorns were taken out of their natural habitat, dried and thus spared the decaying forces of nature. Seen in a museum and not in their natural environment, acorns, seed pods and leaves take on a new meaning. Each is no longer a percel of nature but an art object displayed for its beauty. The physical beauty of these individual objects is echoed by the beauty of Galston's presentation in which the randomness of nature is replaced by the artfully calculated design of the artist.

The tangible presence of the natural materials and the intangible quality of light are brought into a harmony that functions in concert thematically, transforming our perception of nature. Reflected light and shadows cast by the natural materials and installation framework subtly but pointedly accent the themes of distinctive beauty inherent in the installation. Her interests in the effects of light and shadow are traceable to earlier installations and her studies at MIT.

Galston earned her BFA in sculpture from the Kansas City Art Institute and her MS in Visual Studies from MIT. This year she was an Artist-in-Residence in Pittsfield and Newburyport, MA, Public Schools and is a frequent visiting artist and instructor at several New England Colleges. Galston has received many awards, including residencies at The MacDowell Colony and Yaddo, a two-year fellowship from the Bunting Institute, Radcliffe College and most recently a Professional Development grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Her installations are included in many publications such as "From Light to Leaf: The Installation Art of Beth Galston," Sculpture Magazine, July/August 1997, by Marty Carlock. This is the first time Ms. Galston has been invited to exhibit in New Hampshire.