Mar 17 - Jun 23, 2023
Photographs by Vaughn Sills
Photographer Vaughn Sills brings her exquisite still lives of Arnold Arboretum plants—whether in flower or fruit, burnished fall foliage or shimmery bud—to this exhibition. Each stem is a wonder of composition and color—prominent, yet sublimely connected to a background of a distant and ethereal landscape. The images are Still Lives, from inside Sills’ studio, and include the outside—her images of nature and wide expanses of land and water. Combined, these seemingly disparate elements convey the importance of two ways of looking, close up and far away.
Sills was able to obtain live plant material for this project with staff permission and accompaniment: each stem was carefully collected with Arnold Arboretum Visitor Engagement staff. With a few specimens at a time, Sills returned to her studio and posed branches for portraits against her previously photographed vistas—landscapes from Prince Edward Island, her place of origin. As an immigrant herself, the international collections of the Arnold spoke eloquently to her. It’s a place where plants from different countries can live in an environment that brings spiritual enjoyment to visitors, as part of the Boston Park System. At the same time, the Arboretum is also a place of conservation, education, and research as part of Harvard University. Again, the dual objective of pleasure and science, like Close up and Far Away, or inside and outside. This exhibition brings together the artist and her art—the aesthetic of the medium of photography—with the Arnold Arboretum’s collections as subject, and the broader and distant landscape and nature as complements.
Vaughn Sills website: http://www.vaughnsills.com/
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