Rina Banerjee, Summer squash and rice liquor, a fortress of land dropped out of origin, like five parts too big drifted away to sea., 2020 / © Rina Banerjee. Photo Dario Lasagni
Spirit in the Land
Feb 16 – Jul 9, 2023
Nasher Museum of Art / Duke University
Durham NC, USA

Spirit in the Land is a contemporary art exhibition that examines today’s urgent ecological concerns from a cultural perspective, demonstrating how intricately our identities and natural environments are intertwined. Through their artwork, thirty artists show us how rooted in the earth our most cherished cultural traditions are, how our relationship to land and water shapes us as individuals and communities. The works reflect the restorative potential of our connection to nature and exemplify how essential both biodiversity and cultural diversity are to our survival.

“Our desire to live in harmony with nature is ultimately what will determine our future.” –Trevor Schoonmaker, Mary D.B.T. and James H. Semans Director, Nasher Museum.

These artists explore the ways in which our inner spaces mirror our outer ones in works that both celebrate the profound beauty of our world and mourn its loss, and with it, vanishing histories of people and place.

As the battles against climate change are often most critical for marginalized communities – environmental justice is social and racial justice – the exhibition and catalogue center the voices of artists who approach ecological awareness through a close attention to the communities most negatively affected. Acting as environmental stewards, the artists reclaim and revitalize our understanding of nature as a repository of cultural memory, a place of sanctuary, a site of resistance, and a source of spiritual nourishment and healing. As land and water provide a sense of belonging and community, the exhibition illustrates our interdependence with all life on Earth.

Spirit in the Land has its roots in North America, with shoots reaching into the Caribbean. While these artists investigate natural environments under stress, the exhibition presents a belief in the possibility of transformation and regeneration. Our desire to live in harmony with nature is ultimately what will determine our future.

This exhibition is organized by Trevor Schoonmaker, Mary D.B.T. and James H. Semans Director, Nasher Museum.