CHICAGO, ILLINOIS—Works in sculpture and installation by Theaster Gates, Jaume Plensa and Jim Dine debuted in Field of Dreams, the Parrish Art Museum’s inaugural sculpture exhibition. The extensive outdoor installation opened August 20, 2020, responding to the landscape and architecture of the museum’s 14-acre grounds in Water Mill, New York, and featuring ten artists of international renown.
“Our meadow has been patiently waiting for this opportunity to become a true extension of the museum, allowing the Parrish to fulfill its responsibility to provide an opportunity to interact with art during the pandemic that is safe, socially distant, and rich with potent and timely meaning,” said Parrish Board President Mary E. Frank. “Field of Dreams is a space to conjure the carefree days of summers past or to dream of what the future might hold.”
Presented in the museum’s Great Meadow, Theaster Gates debuted his latest outdoor work, Monument in Waiting. Gates’s timely installation responded to the current political moment and public reckoning of historical figures and monuments. Comprised of repurposed stone plinths placed upon a large granite plaza, Monument in Waiting evokes the very sites being scrutinized today. An inscription engraved on one of the plinths reads, “Until real heroes bloom, this dusty plinth will wait.” This tribute, like much of Gates’s work, asks viewers to reconsider the traditional narratives that have been upheld and celebrated over others. Monument in Waiting is the second public sculpture to ever be exhibited by the artist.
Field of Dreams also marked the first appearance of two bronze sculptures by Jim Dine: The Hooligan, 2019, and The Wheatfield (Agincourt), 1989-2019. Standing at nearly nine feet tall in Parrish’s Entry Meadow, The Hooligan draws inspiration from the iconic Venus de Milo. A prominent motif across Dine's media-spanning practice, the repetition and seriality of the Venus in Dine’s compositions has been seen as an act of subversion, exacerbating its status as an icon.
Exhibited in the Great Meadow was Jim Dine’s The Wheatfield (Agincourt). First conceived in 1989 and reworked in 2019, this monumental assemblage expresses a life’s work of collected signs and symbols. Tools, branches, parrots, Venuses, Pinocchios, apes and cats, and one large skull cover the axle of an enormous piece of farm equipment, imagined from those seen in the grain fields surrounding the artist's home and studio in Walla Walla, Washington. Offering a visual timeline of the artist’s most celebrated motifs, the present and newly expanded version of The Wheatfield was one of Dine’s most ambitious works to date.
The outdoor sculpture exhibition also debuted four bronze portraits by Jaume Plensa: Carlota (oak), Julia (oak), Laura Asia (oak), and Wilsis (oak). Assembled together in the Great Meadow, the four sculptures welcomed visitors to walk among them. By depicting his subjects with closed eyes, Plensa seeks to evoke a sense of silence and stillness—a concept central to the artist’s practice. Standing over nine feet tall, these totemic works are the first in a new series of portraits carved directly into tree trunks. By including the trunks as part of the sculpture, Plensa draws the connection between humanity and nature. The wood acts as both the medium and subject of the sculpture while the irregular surfaces, scattered splinters and cracks in the wood are captured in bronze. This installation was organized in partnership with Galerie Lelong & Co., New York.
Field of Dreams was part of the Art in the Meadow initiative created to activate the Parrish Art Museum’s outdoor spaces with performances, screenings, and sculpture.