Trainscape: Installation Art for Model Railroads

DeCordova Exhibits
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On View 2007 - 2008

This fall, DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park will transform the 3500 square-foot Joyce and Edward Linde Gallery with Trainscape: Installation Art for Model Railroads. For this show, twelve New England artists/artist teams have been invited to create new works of installation art—miniature worlds traversed and connected by a fully operational O-scale model railroad! The fourteen emerging and established New England artists who rose to this challenge have produced a spectacular array of fully-imagined worlds that involve a wide range of issues, including history, poetry, philosophy, geography, abstraction, figuration, scale, architecture, and humor. Trainscape is a celebration of unbridled creativity, not an attempt to represent reality at a miniature scale as in traditional model railroading.

Trainscape addresses a vital issue in the art of the early twenty-first century. Currently, many artists are actively engaged in the creation of imaginary worlds, not only with sculpture and installations, but also with painting, drawing, and photography. This impulse reflects philosophical ruminations about alternate realities, escape from the current world situation, and the use of place as an emotionally expressive device. A major theme within this exploration of parallel universes is a wide expansion of the idea of landscape sculpture (as opposed to the far more familiar “landscape painting”). Trainscape presents many alternative worlds, united only by the physical—and often conceptual—presence of the trains that travel throughout the exhibition.

The use of a miniature railroad enables DeCordova Museum to effectively present twelve separate works of contemporary installation art in a limited space, and to allow these works to be considered both separately and in juxtaposition. The miniature is also the perceptual cousin to the colossal. Tiny objects and images demand close examination, so that they fill one’s optical field in much the same way as very large visual phenomena. This close looking at small things allows for deep mental immersion as well. Trainscape thus provides enveloping journeys to cities, mountains, deserts, technological landscapes, and places of pure imagination.

The participating artists/artist teams were selected from proposals submitted by seventy-five invited competitors, and include Ahmed Abdalla, Sandor Bodo, Doug Bosch, Chris Frost, George Greenamyer, Ralph Helmick, Robin Mandel and Gideon Webster, Mike Newby, Stuart Schechter, Ellen Wetmore and Jeff “Jeffu” Warmouth, Edythe Wright, and Joy Wulke.

Trainscape is organized by Curator Nick Capasso, Koch Curatorial Fellows Kate Dempsey and Lisa Sutcliffe, and Preparator Brad Gonyer. This exhibition has been funded by the Lois and Richard England Family Foundation.