Why 559 stones? Chris Drury knows why.
Drury, an acclaimed conceptual artist from Great Britain, will be exhibiting his collection “Mushrooms | Clouds” starting Saturday until Oct. 5 at the NMA located at 160 W. Liberty St. in Reno. The stone structure, “559 Shelter Stones,” serves as a kind of central attraction to the gallery and represents the 559 genes found in the partial DNA sequence of a soil bacteria from one of the most abused nuclear landscapes in the world — the Nevada Test Site.
“It’s very fragile, even if it is made of stones,” Drury said, explaining that he thinks of himself as a kind of a “landscape artist.” “I think it’s interesting to find something living in what is essentially a ‘field of death.’ “
As part of his physical and environmental art work debut in the United States, Drury explores the connections between art and nature, emphasizing the life cycles of humans and the earth. Drury said he has been toying with ways to talk to his audience about this topic, posing questions through his art.
“For 30 years, I’ve been asking myself the question, ‘If you take man out of the picture, is there a wilderness?’ “ Drury said. “I juggle those ideas to make cultural connections.”
And cultural connections abound in his 15-piece exhibit, touching on subjects of land and water appropriations and nuclear testing. Drury said he often looks for ways to connect his artwork with nature and his audience, allowing for them to experience the art in a reflective way.
“I’m really interested in landscape and the world,” Drury said, explaining he draws inspiration from everyday experiences. “I like to see what’s happening in the world and why we’re destroying it.”
The gallery features several exhibits in the museum including the painting “Destroying Angels,” made using mushroom spores, to the “Cloud Pool Chamber” located in the Nightingale Rooftop Sculpture Gallery where viewers can watch reflections of clouds in a pool of water. One exhibit outside the gallery, “Winnemucca Whirlwind,” is located near the Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation and viewers are encouraged to visit the 300-foot desert drawing.
A closer look at each piece reveals small nuances including soil from the Nevada Test Site used for painting a full-wall-length DNA strand, collected sagebrush strung together to form a three-dimensional mushroom and logs from Donner State Park to make the “Cloud Pool Chamber.” All these details come together to make Drury’s work specific, intricate and complex — like nature itself.
“I’m always looking for different ways of tying things together,” Drury said. “I want the viewers to take from this what they want and for the artwork to have a life of its own.”
Ticket prices are $10 for general admission, $8 for students and seniors, $1 for children under the age of 12 and free for NMA members.
For more information, visit Chris Drury’s Web site at www.chrisdrury.co.uk.