Earthscapes: Emerging to a Brighter World: Pamela Casper at Wisner House

Art Spiel Photo Story

Installation view

In her solo art exhibition at Reeves-Reed Arboretum, Pamela Casper invites the garden-loving public to reconcile a personal relationship of guardianship that goes beyond admiring nature’s beauty. The artist says that the trajectory of the work in this show follows her own path of transformation—from observing beauty and imagining nature “above ground” to exploring the endless networks hidden below. The show is curated by Executive Director Jackie Kondel and runs through October 31tst, 2021.

A picture containing tree, outdoor, flower, plant

Description automatically generated

The Wisner house

As the viewer enters from the natural harmony of the Reeves-Reed Arboretum’s landscape grounds to the foyer of the Wisner’s House, they encounter Casper’s Plein Air watercolor paintings. The subsequent gallery introduces the visitor to The Tornado Series, from 2007- 2015, depicting imagined landscapes which reveal the impact of human waste and pollution on natural cycles such as pollination and water habitats. The artist sees the genesis of this series in her own life, raising her children, she felt “swept up in an uncontrolled and powerful force of nature propelled by child-rearing.” In her work, this force manifested as Tornado forms, which underscore the compositions throughout this series.

A vase with flowers

Description automatically generated with low confidence

Pamela Casper, Metamorphosis Tornado, watercolor on Paper, 2008, 36×28 in

In her recent work, the artist has continued to produce imagined renderings of the hidden aspects of our subterranean world in her watercolor and oil on canvas paintings, such as Gothic Underground Here, where Casper’s gestural brushstrokes evoke natural forms such as swirling interlocking roots underground, imagining a hidden and complex habitat. Reflecting on these Root paintings, the artist says she imagines spaces where root networks generate an endless supply of quirky and diverse structures—fungi, plant, and animal organisms—hidden in the earth. “Although tradition trains us to think of worlds below ground as dark and lifeless places, my interpretation of looking below ground is counterintuitive; the deeper you go below the roots, the more vibrant the color and the brighter the spaces. I choose to emphasize the energy and illuminate the life processes that exist beyond our ability to observe.” It is evident in the resulting series of vivid paintings that this imagined space also furnishes for Casper an opportunity to experiment with paint handling and randomness.

A picture containing colorful

Description automatically generated

Pamela Casper, Gothic Underground, oil on Canvas, 2021, 36×24 in

The exhibition also features a site-specific installation made of found materials, steel, and barbed wire, depicting a ghost apparition of nests, birds and insects, all resonating with species extinction. The artist aims to shed light on what we cannot see in nature, “I bring awareness about the interconnectedness of all things above and below ground in our environment despite our problematic behaviors,” she says.

A close-up of a snake

Description automatically generated with low confidence

Pamela Casper, March of the Earthworms, steel wire, 2021, 12×6 in

All photo courtesy of the artist

Twelve-year survey of Paintings and Sculptures by Pamela Casper The Wisner House at the Reeves-Reed Arboretum, 165 Hobart Avenue, Summit, NJ, On view Tue-Sun, 10AM-4PM through October 31st, 2021