Alexis Rockman: The Great Lakes Cycle explores the past, present, and future of North America’s Great Lakes–one of the world’s most emblematic and ecologically significant ecosystems.
This multifaceted project was initiated in 2013 when artist Alexis Rockman embarked on a research tour of the Great Lakes region. The centerpiece of the exhibition is a suite of five mural-sized paintings which explore separate themes that emerged during Rockman’s travels. These are accompanied by several large-scale watercolors and field drawings–monochromatic animal and plant studies made from site-sourced organic material such as mud, sand, coal, and leaves.
One of the world’s great natural treasures, the Great Lakes—Erie, Huron, Ontario, Michigan, and Superior—form an interconnected system that is among the most beautiful, economically important, and ecologically complex regions on the planet. The Great Lakes, which hold over 20% of the world’s fresh water, contain some of the most precious resources for the future of humankind and life on earth. Rockman’s series celebrates the natural majesty and global importance of the Great Lakes while exploring how they are threatened by factors including climate change, globalization, invasive species, mass agriculture and urban sprawl. While there has been some success in reversing these trends, the exhibition of these dramatic works will serve to inspire wider understanding and draw greater attention to the urgency of these issues.
Accompanying the exhibition is a catalogue published by the Grand Rapids Art Museum in association with Michigan State University Press. The catalogue was written by Dana Friis-Hansen, with contributions by Jeff Alexander and Thyrza Nichols Goodeve, and a forward by Mark Van Putten, CEO of Wege Foundation.
Following its debut in Grand Rapids, Alexis Rockman: The Great Lakes Cycle will travel to the following venues:
Chicago Cultural Center: 2 June – 1 October 2018
Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland: 19 October – 27 January 2019
Haggerty Museum of Art of Marquette University, Milwaukee: 8 February – 19 May 2019
Weisman Art Museum, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis: 5 October 2019 – 5 January 2020
Flint Institute of Arts: 9 May – 27 September 2020