Virginia Overton is a site-responsive artist. She makes sculptures, installations, photographs, and videos that relate to and interact with a venue’s architecture and defining landscape. Ultimately, what she achieves is work that is implicitly site referential, as she underscores an environment’s unassuming or extraordinary attributes by engaging the sensory features of the material.
Her sculptures and installations appear minimally composed, but their engagement with the features of a space—as well as its exterior and the landscape—generates a maximalist sensation from an efficiency of means. Performative by nature, her chosen materials are stimulated by the specificity of their situation; always initiated by the execution of a deliberate action, they maintain a relational experience predicated on a “being there” aesthetic.
Overton’s approach to the exhibition process is a combination of research and on-site decision making. For The Aldrich, she has created thirteen site-reactive sculptures and a video, presented inside the galleries, in the Sculpture Garden, and on the roofline. Each informs the other as the works reverberate throughout the building and boomerang out onto the grounds, offering multiple lines of sight. Many of the sculptures are composed of elements harvested from a dead eastern white pine felled on the Museum’s grounds. Some works feature indigenous materials scavenged on the premises alongside items Overton collected at the studio or recycled from past installations. Overton transposes the energy encapsulated within these objects, draining them of their normative purpose, and imparting them and their circumstances with a new functionality.
Whether reflecting the architectural features of a gallery or the contours of a natural landscape, Overton assesses the material—studying and learning its physical properties, seeing how far it can go, how much it can withstand—as it is processed through countless hours of experimentation. Once installed, her space-shifting sculptures and installations, through a process of re-articulation, demonstrate the inherent being-ness of an object, its materiality, its connection to a specific place at a particular time, inviting the viewer to navigate it anew as elements emerge and vanish from up close and at a distance.
Curated by Amy Smith-Stewart, Senior Curator.
Virginia Overton was born in 1971 in Nashville, Tennessee; she lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
Generous support for Virginia Overton is provided by White Cube and Freymond-Guth Fine Arts, Zurich.
Top image: Virginia Overton, Untitled (Suspended log), 2016; Courtesy of the artist.