These days it’s not enough for art to just sit around looking pretty. To be noticed in a world exploding with new digital stimuli vying for our attention ever minute, art has to grab you by the short and curlies in order to gain a precious nano second’s attention. An exhibition that delivers just that and more, is the Wonder exhibit at the Smithsonian’s newly renovated Renwick Gallery in Washington DC.
The exhibition perfectly conveys the textbook definition of its title, Wonder: a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable. Each of the jaw-dropping, logic-defying, inspirational installations has one wondering a) how on earth the artists thought up and actually produced these creations and b) what on earth will artists think up next?
My favorite installation was Patrick Dougherty’s Shindig, an installation made entirely out of willow saplings. The large gallery space was tansformed into a wondrous world of fantasy where for a fleeting instance, one could forget one’s human origins and imagine an alternate existence nestled in a natural world of inexpressible beauty.
Another dazzling spectacle was the room decorated by artist Jennifer Angus. But like all the works in this exhibition, the intricate design patterns on the walls are not what they seem at first glance….
What all the works in this exhibition have in common is the immersive, experiential and multi sensory adventure that they offer museum visitors. This is the new wave, the new frontier in art and the museum goes a step further by embracing our ubiquitous image sharing culture…
The Renwick is experiencing an unanticipated flood of visitors. And no wonder (pun intended) – the lady at the information desk told us that this is the happiest museum exhibition she can ever recall!
Visit Wonder at the Renwick through July, 2016.