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Internationally Celebrated Artist Agnes Denes Will Create A Permanent "Poetry Walk" At The University Of Virginia

April 12, 2000 -- American artist and scholar Agnes Denes will bring the past, present and future together, commemorating the millennium and the area’s rich heritage, in a permanent art installation, "Poetry Walk," at the University of Virginia. Installation of the project, which will be located near Brooks Hall on the historic central Grounds and will cover about 520 feet bordering on University Avenue, will take place April 24 and 25, weather permitting.

At first glance the project is simple and straightforward. Twenty granite stones of various sizes and types, whose edges have been shaped, will be laid flat into the ground. Into the stones will be carved fragments of writings from Thomas Jefferson, poems of contemporary and historical poets of the area, and writings from the history of Virginia that resonate for the whole country.

Buried in "Poetry Walk" will be a time capsule to be opened in the year 3000. Inside will be placed more than 400 student responses to a thought-provoking questionnaire created by Denes. Again, what at first glance appears simple is in reality a complex probing of human values and the relationship between the individual and society. The 28 questions relate to our place in the universe from a physical, psychological and spiritual perspective.

The questions include: What do you consider humanity’s most important achievement? What is love? What do you think hate is? How do you feel about death? Which do you think will prove more important for humanity — science or love? What is ultimate reality? What would mean the greatest happiness to you? Do you think human evolution is dependent on the further evolution and greater complexity of the mind?

Often working on a monumental scale, Denes is a visionary artist whose concern for humankind and its place in the universe is at the center of her artistic philosophy. Based in New York, she has had over 300 solo and group exhibits on four continents. Her awards and honors include four National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, the prestigious Eugene McDermott Achievement Award from MIT, the Watson Award from Carnegie Mellon University, an honorary doctorate in fine arts for her environmental responsibility from Ripon College in Wisconsin, and the Prix de Rome in 1998, among others. She is the author of four books, including "The Book of Dust — The Beginning and the End of Time and Thereafter."

In her work, Denes says she creates "metaphors of our time" which address global survival and explore time and human understanding. She sees the role of the artist as "developing a new vision for humanity."

A pioneer in environmental art who works in many media, including drawing, writing, music, sculpture, poetry and photography, she is one of the first artists to be involved in conceptual art. Her first ecological work, "Rice/Tree/Burial," explored man’s relationship to the forces of nature and is considered the first environmental site work. In 1982 she planted and harvested a two-acre wheat field, "Wheatfield — A Confrontation," in Manhattan’s financial district on land worth $4.5 billion. Her work "Tree Mountain - A Living Time Capsule," in Finland, celebrates the reclaiming of land by creating a "virgin forest." Eleven thousand people planted 11,000 trees, which will be protected for 400 years, to affirm man’s commitment to the preservation of the planet.

The writings on the stones in "Poetry Walk" were researched by the artist and University of Virginia students from various disciplines. Their research task was to uncover important moments in our past and the essence of the area’s heritage. In one of the stones will be carved Denes’s art manifesto, which she wrote three decades ago and in which she vowed to create "art in the service of humanity."

Artsboard, a student organization whose purpose is to invite internationally recognized artists to U.Va., chose Denes and her project to "bring something to the University everyone can enjoy," said Nicole Marin, Artsboard chair. "We want to give a gift. We want to leave a mark."

"Poetry Walk" is the only permanent installation of the "Hindsight/Foresight: Art for the New Millennium" project sponsored by U.Va.’s Bayly Art Museum. It is partially funded by a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts.

The Bayly’s Millennium project will feature sight-specific art responding to the area’s rich history and Thomas Jefferson’s heritage. The 18 artists include Ann Hamilton, Michael Mercil, Dennis Oppenheim, Lucio Pozzi, Daniel Reeves and Martha Jackson-Jarvis. Projects will be at historic and commercial sites in the Charlottesville area.

For more information or advance interviews contact Agnes Denes at (212) 966-0288 or by fax (212) 941-5484. Jill Hartz, director of the Bayly Art Museum, may be reached at (804) 924-3592. Denes is expected to be on site at some stages of the installation.

Contact: Jane Ford, (804) 924-4298

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: please contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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Top news site edited by Jane Ford (jford@virginia.edu); maintained by Karen Asher (kac@virginia.edu); releases posted by Suzanne Raileanu (sr3r@virginia.edu).
Last Modified: Thursday, 13-Apr-2000 10:50:43 EDT
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