“Without Land,” a new exhibition featured in the Apex Gallery at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, gives students and the community the opportunity to explore the wildland-urban interface without having to travel deep into the Black Hills.
The exhibition is a collaboration between artist Altman Studeny and associate professor of humanities Deborah Mitchell’s Modern and Contemporary Art History class at Mines. The goal was to take art out of the gallery and put it into the real world.
Work from 30 individuals is featured in the exhibition, 18 being Mitchell’s art students. The rest is made up of local artists and some of Studeny’s Black Hills State University art students.
Mitchell approached Studeny with the intent of giving her students the experience of working with a professional artist.
“I’ve always had an interest in exhibits that involve environmental issues. I wanted to give them an opportunity to work with someone of his caliber, and someone closer to their own age who has accomplished so much,” she said.
Studeny agreed to the collaboration because of SD Mines and their history with geology.
“A lot of the work that I do as an artist is explore how to use materials that often times aren't part of the usual experiences of a gallery such as soil, rocks, and trees,” he said.
Students were given the task of traveling to a point where they believe nature begins, take a picture, note the geographic coordinates and collect a rock from the site. The rocks and photos are currently on display at the Apex Gallery.
“We wanted to give people the exploration of the rural-urban connection. I think that there is a great value in finding the wild around us. Thinking about where nature is. It doesn’t have to be 20 miles into the backcountry, it can be in downtown Rapid,” Studeny said.
At the conclusion of the exhibition, a new group of participants will return all natural materials to the sites of their collection, giving a new group of participants the opportunity to experience the cycle of nature.
“Without Land” will be on display at the Apex Gallery through April 27. The public is invited to attend and take part in the closing reception from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. that night. Admission to the exhibition and the reception are free to the public.