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Spirit in the Land

February 16 – July 09, 2023
Tamika Galanis, Still from Catching Shadow (detail), 2021. Video (color, sound), 6:02 minutes. Courtesy of the artist. © Tamika Galanis.

Our desire to live in harmony with nature is ultimately what will determine our future.

Trevor Schoonmaker, Mary D.B.T. and James H. Semans Director, Nasher Museum.

Our identities and natural environments are intertwined

Spirit in the Land is a contemporary art exhibition that examines today’s urgent ecological concerns from a cultural perspective, demonstrating how intricately our identities and natural environments are intertwined. Through their artwork, thirty artists show us how rooted in the earth our most cherished cultural traditions are, how our relationship to land and water shapes us as individuals and communities. The works reflect the restorative potential of our connection to nature and exemplify how essential both biodiversity and cultural diversity are to our survival.

These artists explore the ways in which our inner spaces mirror our outer ones in works that both celebrate the profound beauty of our world and mourn its loss, and with it, vanishing histories of people and place.

As the battles against climate change are often most critical for marginalized communities— environmental justice is social and racial justice—the exhibition and catalogue center the voices of artists who approach ecological awareness through a close attention to the communities most negatively affected. Acting as environmental stewards, the artists reclaim and revitalize our understanding of nature as a repository of cultural memory, a place of sanctuary, a site of resistance, and a source of spiritual nourishment and healing. As land and water provide a sense of belonging and community, the exhibition illustrates our interdependence with all life on Earth.

Spirit in the Land has its roots in North America, with shoots reaching into the Caribbean. While these artists investigate natural environments under stress, the exhibition presents a belief in the possibility of transformation and regeneration. Our desire to live in harmony with nature is ultimately what will determine our future.

This exhibition is organized by Trevor Schoonmaker, Mary D.B.T. and James H. Semans Director, Nasher Museum.

Spirit in the Land travel venues:
Pérez Art Museum Miami: Mar 21 – Sep 8, 2024
Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens: Nov 6, 2024 – Feb 9, 2025


Terry Adkins, Firelei Báez, Radcliffe Bailey, Rina Banerjee, Christi Belcourt, María Berrío, Mel Chin, Andrea Chung, Sonya Clark, Maia Cruz Palileo, Annalee Davis, Tamika Galanis, Allison Janae Hamilton, Barkley L. Hendricks, Alexa Kleinbard, Hung Liu, Hew Locke, Meryl McMaster, Wangechi Mutu, Dario Robleto, Jim Roche, Kathleen Ryan, Sheldon Scott, Renée Stout, Monique Verdin, Stacy Lynn Waddell, Charmaine Watkiss, Marie Watt, Carrie Mae Weems, Peter Williams.

Featured Featured Articles

Artist Videos: Spirit in the Land

This article features four videos of artists whose work is part of the exhibition Spirit in the Land. Artists María Berrío, Mel Chin, Alexa Kleinbard and Jim Roche are all inspired by nature in their work. In each...


Featured Featured Articles

Spirit in the Land Exhibition Catalogue

Spirit in the Land (Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, $29.95, 2023), the catalogue which accompanies the art exhibition of the same name...


Featured Featured Video

Haiku for Spirit in the Land

Five local poets responded to works of art from the recent exhibition Spirit in the Land. Brief bios (in order of appearance) Gideon Young, a p...

by Nasher Museum Duration 3m46s Published


Lead support for Spirit in the Land is provided by the Ford Foundation.

Major support for Spirit in the Land is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

At the Nasher, Spirit in the Land is supported by the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation; The Duke Endowment; the Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Family Fund for Exhibitions; the Frank Edward Hanscom Endowment Fund; the Janine and J. Tomilson Hill Family Fund; Katie Thorpe Kerr and Terrance I. R. Kerr; Alexandria and Kevin Marchetti; Parker & Otis; Lisa Lowenthal Pruzan and Jonathan Pruzan; and Caroline and Arthur Rogers.


Spirit in the Land VIPs! From left: artist Mel Chin, Susan Hendricks (wife of the late artist Barkley L. Hendricks), artist Stacy Lynn Waddell, Nasher Museum Director Trevor Schoonmaker, artists Renée Stout, Monique Verdin, Alexa Kleinbard and Jim Roche. Photo by J Caldwell.
Billboards and bus wraps appeared all over Durham to entice visitors to see the new exhibition Spirit in the Land. Photo by J Caldwell.
A GoDurham bus features words and a picture by artist Meryl McMaster (Plains Cree/Siksika Nation, Born in Ottawa, Canada). The words come from an essay for the exhibition catalogue Spirit in the Land. McMaster writes about the birth of her daughter in 2020; she was introduced to the world with a private ceremony: “To the four directions, to the earth and sky, everything as witness. It is a gesture of being in the world, and the world becoming part of us, activating our relationship to the environment.”
Featured Featured Photo Gallery

Spirit in the Land: Exhibition Opening Events

The Nasher Museum celebrated the new exhibition Spirit in the Land with preview and opening events on February 15 and 16, 2023. The exhibition ...

32 Images Published

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