The Whitney Museum of American Art Commissions Virginia Overton To Create Site-Specific Installation

Virginia Overton: Sculpture Gardens opens June 10, 2016
The Whitney Logo

For the second commissioned project on the Museum’s fifth-floor outdoor gallery, the Whitney Museum of American Art has invited Virginia Overton to create a new site-specific installation. Virginia Overton: Sculpture Gardens, to be installed on the Whitney’s largest outdoor space and in adjacent galleries, will explore the concepts of the sculpture garden as a cultivated setting for contemplating artworks and the garden sculpture as a vernacular ornament adorning lawns and gardens. Situated not in a verdant landscape but on a concrete-paved rooftop, Overton’s sculptures themselves will take the form of aquatic gardens, forging dialogues between the High Line’s plantings and the Hudson River’s waters.

On the outdoor gallery, Virginia Overton: Sculpture Gardens will feature two towering, prefabricated windmills to harness the site’s abundant natural power and pump air through crisscrossing pneumatic tubes to multiple water features planted with aquatic gardens. Throughout the course of the summer, Overton’s installation will attract insect and avian visitors, varying with the weather to emphasize our tenuous and unpredictable hold on the natural world.

In the adjacent galleries, Overton will choreograph a sequence of encounters that highlight and disrupt the connection between the Whitney’s architecture and the outdoors. The Goergen Gallery will be wallpapered with a landscape, while a hovering sculpture will both accentuate and bar the artificial panorama. In the Kaufman Gallery, a group of abstract sculptures crafted from industrial and natural materials, some salvaged from the artist’s family farm and past projects, will be on display. Open views will be provided between the Kaufman Gallery and the outdoor gallery, revealing publicly for the first time the transparency inherent in Renzo Piano’s design of these spaces.

Throughout her career Virginia Overton (b. 1971, Nashville, TN) has used the languages of physicality, displacement, and minimalism in her sculptures, videos, photography, and installations. Overton creates exhibitions in response to the natural and manmade environments in which she works, often overlaying these sites with diverse references ranging from the history of modern art to her personal background in rural Tennessee. She has had recent solo shows at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT; Storm King Art Center, New Windsor, NY; Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, FL; Kunsthalle Bern, Bern, Switzerland; and The Power Station, Dallas, TX.

Virginia Overton: Sculpture Gardens is organized by Scott Rothkopf, Deputy Director for Programs and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator and assistant curator Laura Phipps.