Donna Dennis, a Professor of Art+Design at Purchase College, has created Tourist Cabins on Park Avenue, small tourist cabin-inspired sculptures complete with interior lighting and a satellite dish, which will inhabit the Park Avenue median that runs from 52nd to 53rd Streets through October 27, 2007. The installation is presented by the City of New York/Parks and Recreation and the Park Avenue Sculpture Committee.
“Donna Dennis’s Tourist Cabins on Park Avenue creates a thought-provoking juxtaposition between the humble structures and the affluent residences for which the boulevard is known,” said Commissioner Adrian Benepe. “While New York bustles along Park Avenue, the small, self-sufficient buildings are isolated in the median and, complete with a satellite dish, suggest a hunger for communication and a connection with the outside world.”
“The first tourist cabin-sculptures I made were inspired not only by childhood experiences on family trips but also by the way a small building can stand in for a human presence,” explained Ms. Dennis. “Each time I have exhibited my cabin-sculptures, the setting—whether City Hall Park or a river in Aberdeen, South Dakota—has added new meaning. When I thought of placing these tiny houses amid the glass and concrete and noise and bustle of Park Avenue, the constellation-filled ceiling of Grand Central Terminal inspired me to add a satellite dish that would somehow connect them with distant space and the peace and quiet of the star-filled summer night.”
Drawing inspiration from overlooked fragments of vernacular architecture both rural and urban, Donna Dennis is known for her complex, lyrical and metaphorical sculptural installations. George Melrod reviewing BLUE BRIDGE/red shift (1991-93), a 24-foot long evocation of railway drawbridges, in Art in America declared her "a poet of infrastructure." New Yorkers may remember her subway-inspired Deep Station which filled the lobby of the Brooklyn Museum in 1987.
Ms. Dennis was one of a small number of sculptors, including Alice Aycock, Siah Armajani and Mary Miss, who, in the early 1970’s pushed sculpture toward the domain of architecture. In a recent issue of Sculpture, Deborah Everett writes "When Donna Dennis created her earnest, plain-spoken ‘Tourist Cabins’ at the outset of her career, they had the impact of cultural icons." The first cabin-inspired sculptures were shown at Holly Solomon Gallery in 1976.
Over the years other cabin-sculptures, roughly ¾ scale, have been exhibited indoors at the Whitney Museum, the Walker Art Center, the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, the ICA in London, and the Venice Biennale. Outdoors, they have been seen in such varied settings as New York's City Hall Park, the Storm King Art Center, the Neuberger Museum and on Moccasin Creek in Aberdeen, South Dakota where they were afloat. Each installation has allowed for a new way of thinking about these works inspired by American roadside architecture. On Park Avenue, a few blocks above Grand Central Terminal, and in view of the Waldorf Astoria, the cabins will have their most dramatic, provocative setting to date.
Ms. Dennis's work will be included in Phaidon Press's upcoming Sculpture Today by former Tate Gallery Curator of Sculpture Judy Collins, which will feature the work of artists worldwide and will overview developments in sculpture during the past 40 years.
In 2004, Ms. Dennis’s work was included in an important international survey, "Architecture & Arts 1900 – 2004" curated by Germano Celant, Senior Curator of 20th Century Art for the Guggenheim Museum and held at the Palazzo Ducale in Genoa, Italy. Her large installation, Subway with Silver Girders, was recently placed on permanent display at the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse in Miami.
Ms. Dennis's work is in prominent collections including the Brooklyn Museum, the Cleveland Art Museum, the Microsoft Collection, the Walker Art Center, Ludwig Forum fur Internationale Kunst in Aachen, Germany, the Indianapolis Museum, the San Diego Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Neuberger Museum.
Ms. Dennis teaches Sculpture/3-D Media in the School of Art+Design. She holds a bachelor of arts degree from Carleton College.
For further information on Donna Dennis visit www.donnadennisart.com.