April 20 - September 14, 2013
Natural philosophy was a diverse field of inquiry based on a heuristic approach to knowledge. Through observation and experimentation, the natural philosophers sought to gain an understanding of the meanings and mechanics of the universe. This cross-disciplinary approach to knowledge was embraced by thinkers such as Sir Isaac Newton, who developed a theory of gravity while simultaneously writing treatises on color. In the 19th century, science disengaged itself from philosophy and split itself into specialized fields of study. The artists featured in Natural Philosophy defy these contemporary divisions, creating works that form new ideas by drawing from many areas of study.
The work of artist June Kingsbury combines her interest in philosophy, mythology and biology in macabre sculptures that recall the 16th century wunderkammer. Emily Nachison’s installations draw inspiration from pseudo scientific transformational principles of alchemy. Michael Rogers and Jeffrey Sarmiento collect and rearrange images and artifacts, creating new forms of knowledge through mixed iconography. The elaborate constructions of Mark Zirpel attempt to make tangible the often-invisible principles of the universe.
The practice of natural philosophy may seem quaint in the light of modern discoveries that require enormous research budgets and monumental pieces of equipment, but we lose something when we abandon inquiry to the specialist. The artists in Natural Philosophy pull from diverse disciplines in an attempt to unify the mysteries of our internal worlds with the grand movements of the cosmos.