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Rowan University Art Gallery Transformed Into a Microcosmic Forest

Nadia Hironaka and Matthew Suib’s New Immersive Installation

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Exhibition Dates: September 7 to October 30, 2021
Opening Program, Thursday, September 16, 5 pm to 7 pm 


“Rowan University Art Gallery looks toward reopening this fall with a full schedule of programming that considers the challenges of the past 18 months that have contributed to unsettling and unprecedented times. As we are still working through those challenges it's increasingly important that we practice self-care and personal well-being. This coming gallery season RUAG responds to this ideation and will present a series of exhibitions that explores themes of empathy, solace, reclamation, and regeneration.”  -Mary Salvante, Gallery Director

Philadelphia-based artists Nadia Hironaka and Matthew Suib, known for their fantastical moving images and alternate realities, have created a new immersive film and installation for Rowan University Art Gallery. Field Companion, set in a microcosmic forest is based loosely on the pine barrens that dot Southern New Jersey. Like many, the duo found refuge and solace throughout the COVID-19 pandemic hiking and foraging in these remote, natural landscapes. As America's social fabric frayed deeply over recent years, they considered forest ecosystems in terms of symbiotic and collaborative relationships that sustain coexistence and community.

In Field Companion, the forest has been condensed and transplanted to a terrarium in the artists' studio. Twelve cubic feet of pines, shrubs, ferns, moss, fungus and carnivorous plants are reflected infinitely in the terrarium's mirrored walls and captured with a motion-controlled camera and specialized macro lens that dramatically shift the scale and perspective of this miniature landscape. Living dwellers—snails, slugs, and insects inhabit the miniature ecosystem, accompanied by digitally rendered part-animal, part-human creatures. Through their conversations and interactions, they look forward,
investigating progressive methods of sustainability. Bringing attention to questions surrounding social responsibility and community, Hironaka and Suib transform their microcosmic film set into the home of chimeric forest dwellers who consider themes of precarity, mutualism, and collaborative survival.

About the Artists
Nadia Hironaka and Matthew Suib work collaboratively on films, videos, public artworks, and immersive installations spanning over a decade, often extending their collaboration to include other artists, musicians, and composers. Their practice embraces research and experimentation, encompassing historical fact, popular fiction, and creative speculation. Working across moving-image culture and mass media idioms, they build counter mythologies, alternate or parallel realities, and forward-looking visions of the world around us. 

The Philadelphia-based artists have been collaborators since 2008. They are recipients of several honored awards including a 2015 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, Pew Fellowships in the Arts, and Fellowships from CFEVA and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Their work has been widely exhibited both domestically and abroad at venues including,  Fondazione MAXXI (Rome), New Media Gallery (Vancouver), The Institute of  Contemporary Art (Philadelphia), UCLA Hammer Museum, PS1/MoMA, Philadelphia  Museum of Art, and Arizona State University Art Museum. They have been artists-in-residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts, the Banff Centre, Marble House Project, and the Millay Colony for Arts. Matthew Suib is co-founder of Greenhouse Media and Nadia  Hironaka serves as a professor and department chair of film and video at the Maryland  Institute College of Art. Hironaka & Suib are represented by Locks Gallery. The couple, along with their daughter and one cat reside in South Philly.

About Rowan University Art Gallery
Rowan University Art Gallery serves as a premier cultural destination for South Jersey, the Rowan community, and the surrounding region. Our mission is to provide a platform for discourse on best practices in contemporary art by professional artists, curators, and scholars through the presentation of interdisciplinary art exhibitions, panel discussions, guest curatorial projects, and other public programming.  Field Companion was produced with support from Rowan University Art Gallery and Locust Projects in Miami. Additional support was provided by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.