GREEN ACRES Spotlight – Dan Devine, Living Art
Ensuring the successful completion of a project is important for any artist, but when one’s work includes living creatures, the stakes are upped. For artist Dan Devine, featured in AAC’s current GREEN ACRES exhibition, one of his most recent projects forced him to intertwine his life with a group of sheep. What started out as a quest for self-sufficiency turned into a multi-year experience that would raise questions about life, death, and survival.
The initial concept of Devine’s Sheep Farm, a living, self-sustaining installation, was focused on, “the meaning of local.” Everything used to complete this project (including the sheep, caregivers, food, and supplies) were gathered from within a twenty-five mile radius. Devine and his team quickly realized the energy and time commitment involved in a self-sustained installation with living animals. To ensure the survival of the sheep, those involved in this project provided food and water for the sheep, removed ice from troughs in the winter, administered shots, harvested wool, and docked the tails of these animals.
Despite the tremendous efforts of Devine, almost from the beginning he realized that nature will always provide the ultimate control of the cycle of life. Although the sheep were provided for with the utmost care, a number of factors resulted in the early death and illness of the sheep that Devine dedicated years of his life to. Devine created a Genealogy Chart from 2007-2012 that shows the lifespan of the sheep he raised. While Devine began the project with five sheep and currently has five sheep under his supervision, all of these are different from the ones he began with.
Devine stated that, “Sheep Farm is a continually evolving artwork. It will be both a living artwork and a studio in which new ideas will develop. It will be a stage for new projects. Because Sheep Farm is live I’ve chosen to address its many issues in blog format.” Many visitors to the sheep farm posted comments on Devine’s blog that detailed their experience and impressions of the living exhibit. Some provided Devine with advice as to how he could better care for his sheep, giving everyone a chance to contribute to this project. What do you think about the use of the internet to create a collaborative environment for artists and the public?
– Written by Benjamin Kernan, Administrative and Marketing Intern at the Arlington Arts Center
This exhibition is made possible by an Emily Hall Tremaine Exhibition Award. The Exhibition Award program was founded in 1998 to honor Emily Hall Tremaine. It rewards innovation and experimentation among curators by supporting thematic exhibitions that challenge audiences and expand the boundaries of contemporary art.