Lost Porches: Nathalie Miebach

June 23 - October 8, 2017

It’s no accident that visitors to Nathalie Miebach’s studio often mistake it for a toy shop. “I want to confront the viewer with the visual and aesthetic language associated with play,” says the Boston-based artist, “before they realize that underlying all this chaos is a numerical logic.”

Indeed, once we are lured in by the tantalizing colors, shapes, and patterns of Miebach’s woven sculptures, we begin to notice tiny numbers written on them. On further examination, we discover symbols reminiscent of weather maps. Slowly, Miebach’s “numerical logic” reveals itself, and we realize that what we are seeing is a three-dimensional model of complex weather data.

To create her weather sculptures, Miebach begins by gathering data—temperature, humidity, wind speed, etc.—from an extreme weather event such as a hurricane or flood. She often collects the data on site, using rudimentary instruments, and supplements her own measurements with data available online. Then, using basket-weaving techniques and materials, she translates the data into three-dimensional form.

Although Miebach has said that she wants viewers to be able to read the weather off her sculptures, not every dowel, bead, or string corresponds to a data point. Miebach often adds elements that are not based on data at all, but that serve to enrich the narrative and broaden the range of interpretive possibilities. The blue dragon in The Last Show Was For the Bleachers, for example, represents Hurricane Sandy and alludes to old tales of New England sea serpents.

Ultimately, Miebach’s sculptures do much more than merely visualize information. They provide us with a compelling new means of interacting with weather data and exploring the myriad ways in which individuals and communities are affected by and respond to increasingly extreme weather.

— Danny Lichtenfeld, Director

As weather patterns have become more extreme, human responses to physical events like hurricanes have become both rational and absurd. Using human narratives and weather data from recent storms such as Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy and the Louisiana Flooding of 2016, this exhibit explores the dissonance and coexistence between the physics of weather and the theater of human responses.

Lost Porches metaphorically expresses the human struggle involved in coming to terms with what is lost during a storm and what can be held onto during the rebuilding process. Porches are not only private but also public spaces, playing a significant role as social gathering places in cities like New Orleans. When, after Hurricane Katrina, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) imposed new building codes that required structures to be elevated above flood levels, new types of architecture arose that moved porches from street level to several feet above ground.

How do these visual and social restructurings of communities change or help us adapt to the increasing ferocity of storms? What aspects of private and community life are we willing to give up, and what do we insist on taking with us into this new reality of extreme weather?

— Nathalie Miebach

Click here to watch The Weather Artist: Chasing Storms with Sculpture.

 RELATED EVENTS:

June 23, Friday, 5:30 p.m. – Opening of Six New Exhibits
August 17, Thursday, 7:30 p.m. – Artist Talk: Nathalie Miebach

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