When Thomas Matsuda sets fire to his sculpture Purification at the Morton Arboretum Thursday 19, the ceremonial burning launches an unusual experiment. “We’ve done art exhibitions before, but those were [preexisting] works,” the arboretum’s exhibit developer, Leslie Goddard, tells me by phone. For its new show, “Nature Unframed,” the Lisle institution invited 11 artists from the U.S. and Europe to create works that respond specifically to the site’s trees, lakes and other features. All of the sculptures are within walking distance of the arboretum’s visitors’ center. “You can see the whole exhibition within about 50 minutes,” promises Goddard.
The Morton Arboretum doesn’t seem like a natural setting for art, but Goddard believes artists can “help us look at trees in a new way, and maybe stir up some thoughts and some emotions that might not have been there.… It’s really neat to see the trees through artists’ eyes. That’s been the best part of the installation so far.” She and local artist Anna Kunz, the curatorial adviser for “Nature Unframed,” preview five artworks:
Several special tours mark the opening of “Nature Unframed” this weekend.