Mel Chin, (American, b. 1951), The Arctic is Paris (L’arctique est Paris), 2015, Digital video, 6 minutes and 35 seconds , The Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art at Rollins College, Gift of Barbara ’68 and Theodore ’68 Alfond. 2019.2.15 © Mel Chin

The Place as Metaphor

Collection Conversations

Ideas of place can range from a physical location or imagined setting, to a state of mind or a constructed memory of a past experience. Whether specific as in Jonas Lie’s Dusk on Lower Broadway, or literary as in Rafael Trelles’ La Autopista del Sur, visual representations of place invite reflections on identity, faith, and daily life. How do our surroundings affect the way we see ourselves? Are we defined by the land we inhabit? How do politics or religion shape our ideas of certain parts of the world? 

Featuring a selection of collection favorites and new acquisitions, this exhibition examines the multiple meanings of place through diverse representations across time and region. Two new works that address environmental concerns, Mel Chin’s L’arctique est Paris, a video piece from 2015, and Hellen van Meene’s photographic portrait of climate change activist, Greta Thunberg (2019), encourage viewers to reflect on our interactions with the natural world. Connections between the contemporary works and the historical pieces on view transcend mere thematic parallels and suggest a more nuanced approach to the concept of place. This exhibition is organized by the Cornell Fine Arts Museum. Support for this exhibition comes from the Director’s Circle and the General Exhibition Fund of the Cornell Fine Arts Museum. Additional support comes from the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture. The Cornell Fine Arts Museum is generously funded, in part, by Rollins College, Winter Park, FL.

See the the 360-degree virtual view of this exhibition.
Hellen van Meene, (Dutch, b. 1972), Greta Thunberg, Stockholm, 2019, Chromogenic print, 15 3/8 x 15 3/8 in., The Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art, Gift of Barbara '68 and Theodore '68 Alfond, 2019.2.21. © “Hellen van Meene”. Image courtesy of the artist and Yancey Richardson, New York.

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