Rice University Art Gallery has commissioned a new installation by Memphis-based artist Ben Butler. Butler’s sculptural process mirrors the natural world’s systems of order and construction in which simple, predictable patterns repeat and accumulate to form unexpectedly complex structures. In his Rice Gallery installation, Unbounded, he will use thin, hand-cut sticks of poplar wood to create an intricate lattice that is simultaneously rigid and rhythmic, dense and airy.
Butler explores through sculpture the similarities and differences between human and non-human structures. He is interested in the concept of emergence in which individual parts do together what they could not do alone, for example, as in the formation of flocks of birds or ant colonies. In Unbounded, Butler will use a quintessentially human device – the grid – but will mimic nature’s generative building process to form an expansive architectural superstructure in response to the gallery space.
Through a dense layering and accumulation of irregularly sized grids, Butler’s installation will seemingly “grow” as a rigid system that becomes, paradoxically, an amorphous and not easily definable form.
The opening reception will feature remarks by Butler, complimentary snacks and beverages including ale courtesy of Saint Arnold Brewery. The exhibit will be on display through August 28.