Mark Dion's Giant Terrarium & My Miniatures

As a terrarium lover, plant geek, and artist, this piece brings it all home for me. The Neukom Vivarium is a beautiful master-work by well-known environmental artist Mark Dion. One day I'll make it to see this piece in person, but until then, I was able to see how the work was made and got a sense of how fabulous this it is in Art : 21's video. 

In my home, I have several bell jars with various orchids under them, a large glass jar with a tiny swamp containing sarricenia pitcher plants, venus flytraps, lichen & ferns, and a vintage display cabinet that I've converted into a mini-greenhouse for orchids & alocasia. However, lovely as they are, my home terrariums pale in comparison to this beauty. 

By the way, if you're not familiar, Art : 21 (aka Art in the Twenty-First Century) is a PBS documentary series on contemporary visual artists in the United States. If, like me, you don't have a television, they have many many excellent and interesting videos on their website, here

Unfortunately their videos start with short ads, but as a not-for-profit whose funding is in jeopardy, we can forgive them.

Part 1:

Watch the full episode. See more ART:21.

Part 2:

Watch the full episode. See more ART:21.

Part 3:

Watch the full episode. See more ART:21.

Here are a few of my own terrarium works. Unlike Dion's, which took a crane and an oversize 18-wheeler to make...mine are miniatures, and required dental tools and patience.

Jenny Kendler : Relic from Wunderkammer : 
Found deer skull, hand-sculpted polymer clay, micro-beads, iridescent ink, acrylics, & glue under scientific bell-jar
18" x 10" x 10" :  2007

I found this white-tailed deer skull embedded in the ice at the edge of Lake Michigan w few winters back. After keeping it for a year or so, I had a dream where the skull became a sculpture, sprouting little handmade plants.

Jenny Kendler : Nature Shall Provide (feral girl with bow-legs and pubic mane) : 
Hand-sculpted plasticine figure, lipstick, live plants, soil and gravel in vintage terrarium
8" x 5" x 5 : 2007

P.S. If you're curious, a vivarium differs from a terrarium in that it contains animals as well -- in Dion's case, the insects and other wee crawlies that hitchhiked on his log. 

P.P.S The log lady approves. 


Endangered Species Condoms Win Gold Addy Award!

Molly Schafer and Jenny Kendler (that's me!) created this now officially award winning artwork for the Center for Biological Diversity's Endangered Species Condoms project. Nifty! The packages were designed by fellow awardee Lori Leiber.  

I am excited to announce that not only has the project taken the Gold Addy for Tucson, but Lori just let us know that it's won the Gold at the District level as well --- automatically taking us to the National level competition. Keep your talons, claws or tentacles crossed for us!

The condoms are a project of the Center for Biological Diversity, and aim to underline the impact human overpopulation has on other species.  
Visit the project site at www.endangeredspeciescondoms.com

More from the Center for Biological Diversity:

Our wildly popular Endangered Species Condoms are getting some additional love. This week we found out the colorfully packaged condoms, part of our campaign highlighting the connection between overpopulation and species extinction, won the American Advertising Federation's gold ADDY Award in Tucson in the "public service" category.  The Center handed out 350,0000 condoms last year and hopes to send more out soon to draw attention to this crucial issue. Through the empowerment of women, education of all people and universal access to birth control, we can curb our population to an ecologically safe level.
But some members of Congress are making that very hard. In fact, the House has just passed a bill to cut government funding for critical programs like women's health clinics -- which for millions of people provide the only available access to reproductive services, family planning and birth control. With this February marking Global Population Speak Out month, it's time to tell our elected representatives they should be expanding those programs, not cutting them -- for the sake of our planet and the public.

Check out the Endangered Species Condoms Project and sign the GPSO pledge. Then learn more about the legislative attack on family-planning services from politico.com and contact your senators asking them to counter it.


Sun Boxes : Craig Colorusso

Artist Craig Colorusso will have his environmentally minded (and solar powered!) sound installation, Sun Boxes, on view for a short time only at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. If you are in the area, I encourage you to drop by. Though I have not seen the work in person myself, I can attest from the video of the piece, below, that it seems like it would be a unique and lovely experience.

Sun Boxes are an environment to enter and exit at will, comprised of twenty speakers operating independently --- each powered by solar panels. A different loop, set to play a guitar note, reverberates continuously in each box. These notes collectively sound a Bb chord. Because the loops are of different lengths, they continually overlap so that the piece slowly evolves over time. The sounds of Sun Boxes have been described as both soothing and energizing, as they react to the natural fluctuations of cloudiness and sun to create an ephemeral composition.

Here's a video of the works installed at the 12th annual Sculpture at Maudslay. (Apparently, viewers can also use their own shadows to influence the sound!):

(Filmed by Kevin Belli on September 18, 2010)

All are welcome to enter the sound environment at will during the three-day installation. You can find info on where/how to attend, here and learn more about Sun Boxes here.