(Cotuit, Massachusetts) Boston-based artist Ethan Murrow and a team of assistants have created a site-specific installation entitled The Greenhouse at the Cahoon Museum of American Art. On view through October 3, this panoramic wall drawing spans the entire 75 feet of the museum’s Trustee Gallery and draws inspiration from old growth forests that once existed on Cape Cod.
The primary subject of The Greenhouse is a massive felled oak tree, a cautionary reference to the effects of colonization and development on the Cape’s natural environment. In a testament to nature’s resilience and regeneration, the dead tree plays host to sprouts of new growth. A hybrid treehouse/greenhouse (perhaps an earlier failed attempt to utilize the tree, perhaps a sign of new human intervention) has a window looking out onto an alternate landscape, creating a potential vision of a hopeful future.
To create the mural, Murrow worked with a team of artists over five days using high flow acrylic paint and refillable pens drawing directly onto gallery walls. Murrow explains that this installation is “an homage to the massive oaks that once stood on Cape Cod before being cut wholesale. This massive drawing is intended to be a testament to the ability of plants to outlast the invasive actions of human hands.” Murrow asks us, “How do we use and abuse resources? How can we work closely and collaboratively with plants to build sustainability?”
Murrow will also donate trees for the Cahoon Museum property. While the wall drawing is temporal in nature and will be painted over at the end of the exhibition, the gift of live trees will remain past the imagery that honors them.
Partnered with the installation, The Greenhouse, Murrow created two new color drawings centering around an unusual figure engaged in open-ended activities. Where the large-scale wall drawing has an optimistic view of new growth and cyclical repair, these smaller drawings are intended to stand as cautionary tales and uncertain narrative beginnings. The drawings feature a mysterious character scrambling through the woods, juggling massive terrariums of rare plants, including bonsais. The artist leaves the story and the figure’s intentions open; his unknown role could be that of a thief, protector, irresponsible gardener, or thoughtful propagator.
About Ethan Murrow:
Ethan Murrow is Professor of the Practice and Chair, Painting and Drawing at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Tufts University. He received his BA from Carleton College and his MFA from The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Recent solo museum shows include the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, The Currier Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, and the Clay Center in West Virginia. Murrow is represented by Filles Du Calvaire in Paris, Slete Gallery in Los Angeles, and Winston Wachter Fine Art in New York City and Seattle. He was recently part of an Artist Residency at the Expedia Group, Inc. headquarters in Seattle and completed multi-story wall drawings on the themes of engineering, experimentation and risk.
Murrow was awarded the Stein Emerging Artist Prize by MOCA Jacksonville, participated as Artist in Residence at Facebook Inc., was a fellow at the Ballinglen Foundation in Ireland, received a Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship and was included in the 2013 deCordova Museum’s Biennial with a three-story wall drawing. His work is in many public, private, and corporate collections and has been reviewed and published widely around the world. A monograph on his work was release in 2015 with the German publisher Hatje Cantz. His film project “Dust” with Harvest Films and wife Vita Weinstein Murrow was an official selection of the 2008 New York Film Festival. www.bigpaperairplane.com
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Ethan Murrow, The Greenhouse, 2021, high flow acrylic on wall, 75 feet, Photo by Julia Featheringill.
About the Cahoon Museum of American Art
The Cahoon Museum of American Art presents historical and contemporary art exhibitions in the landmark Crocker House in Cotuit, MA. The Museum welcomes visitors of all ages to learn about art and art history, to enjoy fun, family friendly events, to delight in creative programming, and to embrace the enduring story of the important folk artists Ralph and Martha Cahoon. The Museum is committed to its mission to celebrate American art in ways that expand knowledge, enrich the spirit, and engage the heart.
The Cahoon Museum of American Art is located at 4676 Falmouth Road (Rt. 28) in Cotuit, MA. Museum hours from June 9 – December 19 are Wednesday - Sunday 10am-4pm. For more information, visit Cahoonmuseum.org or call (508) 428-7581.
Cahoon Museum of American Art
508-428-7581, ext. 107