Laura Amussen’s sculptures appear to have been made by Mother Nature herself. Over a twenty-year art career that includes a curatorial practice, college professorship, artmaking, and exhibitions, Amussen’s work has been often compared to Andy Goldsworthy and Tara Donovan, who use organic and synthetic materials (respectively) to form repetitive, undulating patterns and structures. A 2006 graduate of MICA’s Rinehart School of Sculpture, Amussen is a multidisciplinary maker who works in large-scale, site-specific installation, sculpture, mixed media, video, projection, photography, and performance to comment on natural phenomena, climate change, and human relationships, and to envision spirituality at micro and macro levels.
It’s a treat to be able to experience Amussen’s work in person during Covid restrictions, in a multifaceted outdoor (and also indoor) exhibition as part of the Art in Our Gardens program at Ladew Topiary Gardens in Monkton, a sprawling garden and estate built in the 1930s by Harvey Ladew. After traveling to England and Italy, Ladew designed extensive gardens with more than 100 topiaries, which he considered “living sculpture.” The Garden Club of America awarded Ladew the Distinguished Achievement Award for “creating and maintaining the most outstanding topiary garden in the country without professional help.” Ladew puts on exhibits for visitors, who can tour the gardens without a guide and engage in other on-site events and programming.
According to Amussen, the Art in Our Gardens program began several years ago to encourage regional sculptors to display contemporary works in the wildflower meadow and other areas in the gardens. Artists John Ruppert and David Hess have exhibited as part of the program in the past. For her show, Amussen created three new large-scale, site-specific works that respond to the architecture, gardens, and history of Ladew Topiary Gardens and conducted research in its Oval Library, where director Emily Emrick pointed out a sprig of ivy that was creeping through the grate on the floor. That single detail became the impetus for two of Amussen’s works created for her solo exhibition, Flourish.
Flourish is on view at Ladew through October 31, 2020. Visit Ladew’s website for tickets and more info.