The New York City Department of Parks & Recreation is pleased to announce Natural Synthetics, an exhibition of paintings, video and sculptural installations by Washington DC artist Ryan Hackett. On view October 27 through December 6, Hackett’s reflective, serene works blur the line between our organic and manufactured surroundings.
“As our culture moves further from the natural world, we continue to pull certain elements of it along with us,” states Hackett. “The more we pull these elements along, the more bizarre their manifestation. Nature relaxation CDs, potted plants, and captive animals provide a few eerily soothing examples of how we attempt to remain connected to nature while further embedding ourselves in urban environments.”
Intrigued by a common desire to find solace in feigned natural environments, Hackett manipulates the forms, colors, and sounds of the natural world into highly immersive experiences. He “samples” auditory and visual elements, repeating and manipulating the sound or image to create a hybrid composition, much like an electronic musician. In one of Hackett’s three new installations, the fluttering wings of a Monarch butterfly build into hypnotic ambient music. He views these pieces as meditative and infinite, rather than melodic, which has a finality that he associates with songs.
Hackett’s layered paintings diffuse photographs of animals and machines, joining them together with streamlined painted forms. The abdomen of a butterfly transforms into the body of the Mars Rover and an antenna imitates a deer’s branching antlers. Appropriately exhibited in the Arsenal building, the gateway between one of Manhattan’s most active hubs, Fifth Avenue, and the Central Park Zoo—Hackett’s works are a vibrant multimedia experience that questions the dichotomy of artifice and nature.
Ryan Hackett lives and works in Washington, D.C. He received his B.A. in Studio Art at the University of Maryland, College Park in 1999 and his M.F.A. from San Francisco Art Institute in 2007. Between academic pursuits, he co-founded Decatur Blue, a Washington D.C.-based artist collective. Hackett’s work has been featured in exhibitions internationally including the permanent collection of the U.S. Department of State’s Arts in Embassies currently in Madagascar. In 2010 Hackett was the recipient of the Janet and Walter Sondheim Prize for his exhibition at the Baltimore Museum of Art.
The Arsenal Gallery is dedicated to examining themes of nature, urban space, wildlife, New York City parks, and park history. It is located on the third floor of the NYC Parks & Recreation headquarters, in Central Park, on Fifth Avenue at 64th Street. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except for holidays. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/parks/art or call 212-360-8163.