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Maria Elena Gonzalez: Tree Talk

Not on view
1/23/2019 - 3/17/2019
Organizing institution: Mills College Art Museum

This exhibition marks the culmination of Tree Talk, a series of work developed over 10 years by internationally recognized Brooklyn and Bay-Area based artist María Elena González. Exploring the translation between the physical and the acoustical, Tree Talk investigates the unexpected visual parallels between the bark of birch trees and cylindrical player piano rolls. González transcribed the distinctive bark pattern from three birch trees found at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine, and each tree yielded unique compositions for the player piano. Related drawings, prints, videos, and sound installation are featured in the exhibition, demonstrating González’s interest in both representations of sound as well as sound as a sculptural material. Programming during the exhibition will include a live performance featuring Mills music students using drawings of the tree bark as graphic scores.


María Elena González is a Cuban-American artist best known for her sculptural installations informed by architecture and personal experience. In 1999, González received widespread acclaim for her site-specific sculpture Magic Carpet/Home, commissioned by the Public Art Fund. She has been a visiting critic in Sculpture at the Yale University School of Art, a resident faculty member at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and a visiting artist faculty member at The Cooper Union. She is currently Chair of the Sculpture Department at the San Francisco Art Institute. She is also the recipient of numerous grants and awards including a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, a Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant, the Prix de Rome, a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Creative Capital Foundation Award.


Saturday, January 26, 2019
Opening Reception: Tree Talk
5-7pm, Art Museum
Join MCAM to celebrate the opening of this exquisite exhibition.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019
Performance: Tree Talk: Variations on Impression
7pm, Art Museum
Marc Zollinger, John Ivers, and Dirt and Copper will perform works generated from María Elena González’ birch tree rubbings which will be on display for her exhibition Tree Talk. In collaboration with González, the composers translate the visual, gestural, and topographic data found in the tree rubbings into scores to be premiered at the event. This transmission of information from optical to aural describes synesthesia: the phenomena by which the stimulation of one sensory receptor, such as vision, activates a secondary sensory reaction, such as hearing.  Each re-composition approaches the visual material in a variety of ways including strict graphical interpretations to differing conceptions of growth-time as the ensembles traverse open and diverse notations.

Exhibition Images (21)

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