Nurture | Nature presents new work across painting, sculpture and installation from ODU Art Department professors Ryan Lytle and Jing Qin. In this exuberant pairing, both artists explore our collective sense of the uncanny through their use of color and scale. These works pose questions about our human relationship to nature: are we intimately bonded or alienated from the natural world? Are we a threat or a source of protection? The dynamics between the figures depicted here defy easy categorization. This exhibition is a natural companion to Amanda Parer’s work in our Fall Festival, and to the film Fantastic Planet, which inspired this year’s theme.
Born Virginia, 1987
Inspired in part by our featured film, Fantastic Planet, Ryan Lytle’s felted-wool installation grows upwards from a ground of pink astroturf. An oversized human hand acts as a pedestal for three felted rabbits, though the hand’s intention is purposefully unclear: will it protect or hurt these wild creatures? Along with the wild scale shift, Lytle’s suggestive use of graphic (often neon) colors confirms that we are wrestling with themes of dominance and threat in a world of his imagination. He has turned the traditional practice of needle-felting into something extraordinary, with the repeated stabbing motion necessary to create his forms adding to our interpretation of the uneasy relationship between humans and animals.
Lytle holds a BA from Christopher Newport University, Newport News, VA, and an MFA from Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD. His work has been exhibited and collected widely across the Eastern Seaboard.
Born China, 1989
Jing Qin’s large new paintings present idealized and slightly uncanny images of people and animals (in one case, just a skull). Her depictions are seductive, with their swooping shapes, comely colors and attention to textile patterning, and equally odd in their mannerist figures and proportional shifts. If humans are caretakers of nature, and the animal world, are we mothering or smothering? Do our attentions lead to peril for these creatures? Does our tendency to anthropomorphize the animals we love lead us to inadequate advocacy for their survival?
Born in China and holding degrees in fine art from Sichuan University, Chengdu, China, and University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Jing Quin has exhibited and taught across the United States. Her work has been reproduced in multiple publications, including New American Paintings.