The Institute of Fine Arts (IFA) at New York University continues its ongoing Great Hall Exhibition Series by showcasing sculptor Charles Simonds’s Mental Earth in the Great Hall Gallery, opening April 1, 2016.

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The Institute of Fine Arts (IFA) at New York University continues its ongoing Great Hall Exhibition Series by showcasing sculptor Charles Simonds’s Mental Earth in the Great Hall Gallery, opening April 1, 2016. The exhibit was organized by IFA PhD student Julia Pelta Feldman, and will be accompanied by a dialogue and day-long symposium featuring the artist.

A sculptor with roots in New York City’s downtown scene, Simonds first gained renown as an artist in the 1970s for his Dwellings, miniature villages in unfired clay constructed in the streets of SoHo and the Lower East Side and conceived as homes to an imaginary civilization that Simonds called “the Little People.” He created over 200 Dwellings, which usually disappeared days or weeks after their meticulous making. He has also exhibited freestanding sculptures and installations at various institutional spaces, including the Whitney Museum, the Paris and Venice Biennials, Documenta 6, and the Museum of Modern Art. He has been the subject of retrospective exhibitions at the Guggenheim Museum, the Galerie Nationale de Jeu de Paume, and the Institut Valencia d’Art Moderne, among other museums.

"Created in 2003, Mental Earth is a hanging sculpture in which a vibrant arabesque of earthy clay forms – resembling at once landscape, cloud, and man-made structure – floats in the air, detached from the terrestrial and architectural context of Simonds's early work in the streets," said Feldman, who also organized the upcoming all-day symposium on Simonds at IFA. "It is the opposite of site-specific in that it is able to create a new site for itself wherever it is exhibited. But despite this dramatic change from the artist's earlier work, Mental Earth represents powerful continuity with his entire oeuvre: it posits land, architecture, and the human body as a unified, living, and growing form."

On Friday, April 1, 2016, at 6 p.m., there will be a dialogue between the artist and Richard Shiff, Effie Marie Cain Regents Chair in Art at the University of Texas at Austin, taking place in the IFA's lecture hall, followed by a reception in the Loeb room. On Saturday, April 2, the all-day symposium entitled "Dwellings: Charles Simonds and 1970s New York,” will take place in the lecture hall, featuring the art critic, writer, and curator Lucy Lippard; art columnist and writer Christopher Lyon; Herbert Molderings, University Professor of Medieval and Modern Art History at Ruhr University; writer, curator, and museum executive Patterson Sims, among others.

The IFA is deeply grateful for the generous support of the following donors to the Simonds Great Hall Exhibition and programming: The Agnes Gund Foundation; the Elizabeth A. Sackler Museum Educational Trust; Caroline Cummings Rafferty; and the Cummings Rafferty Family Fund of the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties.

The Great Hall Exhibition Series was established in 2012 by the IFA to showcase the work of contemporary artists within the Institute’s celebrated Duke Mansion building. Admission is free and open to the public. The exhibition will be on view daily from 1-4 p.m., April 1 – May 13. The IFA is located at 1 East 78th Street, at 5th Avenue, in Manhattan. Visit here for more information.