Kenyon College

Visiting Artist Brian Harnetty Contributes to The Art of Trees


This fall, the Gund Gallery is eager to launch an artistic endeavor involving sonic mapping and storytelling that will offer new opportunities for Kenyon students and audiences near and far to engage with the history, community, and natural environment of Knox County. As part of the Gallery’s continuing The Art of Trees program series, we are pleased to be working with interdisciplinary, socially and environmentally engaged artist Brian Harnetty to realize a participatory project that will bring college students, faculty, staff, and community members together in conversation with one another about our shared relationships with the local environment. Working primarily with the medium of sound, Harnetty will invite participants into outdoor spaces on Kenyon’s campus and its environs to engage with trees through walking, listening, contemplation, and conversation. Broadly seeking to balance experience, reflection, and action, the project will use outdoor spaces and the trees themselves as mediators and instigators to develop senses of place and deepen relationships between participants and the larger community. Ultimately, the project will provide a “sonic map” of Gambier and surrounding Knox County, with insights into local history, cultural contexts, current ecological and social issues affecting participants, and stories connecting to the trees.  Brian proposes to make several visits to campus throughout the year to conduct research, nature walks, and listening sessions with small groups in outdoor settings. This summer, he has already been working with Gallery staff and Kenyon professors to plan curricular engagements with courses in Environmental Studies, Biology, Sociology, English, Dance, Music, and Modern Languages and Literature. He’s also developing a field journal component to activate his project for remote students and audiences.

The Art of Trees is a research and planning project steered by Gund Gallery staff and a committee of Kenyon faculty, staff, and Gund Associates who are working together to develop a Spring 2021 exhibition that explores trees as the real and metaphorical touchstone for conceiving a new social imaginary, through which we can reinvent our relationship with the natural world for social and ecological betterment.

The Gund Gallery exhibitions and programs are made possible, in part, by the Gund Gallery Board of Directors and the Ohio Arts Council.


Feature Image: Brian Harnetty listens with Forest Listening Rooms participants at the XX Mine, near Shawnee, Ohio. Photo: William Randall.


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