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Ten Thousand Beings




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Thursday, 13 October 2022 to Thursday, 3 November 2022
Thursday, 13 October 2022 - 6:00pm

Visualizing the vital role of forests and watersheds for climate

In her solo exhibition Ten Thousand Beings, artist Katherine Steichen Rosing examines invisible forces and connections between forests, watersheds, and climate, through vividly-hued paintings and a multimedia immersive installation at the Alan Priebe Gallery at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

The world is learning how crucial trees are for humanity. New research published in Nature Climate Change, found that forests absorb twice as much carbon as they emit each year. We often think of the carbon mass of a tree, but fifty percent of the average tree is water. Within wetlands, forests play a critical role in preventing flooding, controlling erosion, and regulating local rainfall through respiration from the leaves. Despite their significance, forests are endangered.

Rosing’s richly colored semi-abstract paintings and her large-scale installation Entanglements, incorporating water samples from nearby Lake Winnebago and the Fox River explore the multitude of connections within forested watersheds; celebrating and advocating the preservation of these wild places. 

Ten Thousand Beings will run from October 13 to November 3, 2022, in the Alan Priebe Gallery at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. An opening reception will be held on Thursday, October 13, 6 – 7:30 pm, preceded by an artist’s talk at 5 pm (room S149 in the Arts and Communications Center). 

“Katherine Steichen Rosing creates vibrant and engaging imagery that transforms the gallery space into an immersive environment” asserts Leslie Walfish, curator of the exhibition and Director of Galleries & Campus Curator, and Instructor in the Art Department.

“Forest are my lens to the world”

Rosing’s work is influenced by a lifetime of exploring the forests and lakes of Northern Wisconsin and the Lake Superior Region. “I have a profound relationship with Northern ecosystems and the forests and the clear glacial lakes they envelop. My studio practice is deeply informed by my experiences in the wilderness, experimentation in the studio, and environmental reports,” says the artist. 

Prolonged childhood camping trips to remote areas where her family camped in tents without electricity or running water, sparked a lifetime of wilderness experiences. Katherine remembers swimming and fishing with her family. “At that time eagles were nearly extinct, but it was safe to eat the fish. Eagles are now flourishing due in part to bans on DDT – but the fish are filled with mercury from coal-fired power plants, and forests are burning.”

A multimedia immersive exhibition probing the dichotomy between environmental anxiety and the exuberance of natural experiences

The exhibition title, Ten Thousand Beings, loosely references the Taoist concept of ten thousand things, as Rosing contemplates the infinite connections within ecosystems from microscopic larvae to the shimmering waters and fluttering leaves of the visible realm.  

The exhibition features paintings from Rosing’s newest body of work, Water Shields and Damselflies, inspired by recent artist residencies, along with several earlier large-scale forest paintings, and a new multimedia installation titled Entanglements. 

Her paintings are developed in numerous layers. She explains, “I often draw or scratch into wet paint, overpainting in many additional layers that may obscure the original marks. These implanted inscriptions reference invisible processes and life forms, creating a complex encrusted surface.”

The Entanglements installation is monochrome and feels almost drained of life, creating a strong contrast with the vividly colored paintings on the surrounding walls that celebrate the vigor and persistence of life.”The dichotomy between the paintings and my installations reflects the paradoxes of my daily experience – I am anxious about the looming threats to these ecosystems, but the moment I step outside and experience the natural world around me I rejoice.” 

The installation creates a nearly forest-scale environment that encourages viewers to walk through the spaces, offering a reflective experience to consider ecological issues.  

Entering the gallery, visitors hear flowing water, frog song, and human voices while encountering the central suspended sculpture “Mother Tree with Lichen.” The delicate white sculpture suggests the fragility of forest ecosystems. It is hand-stitched from translucent fabric and embellished with lichen-like painted lace. “I choose materials for the installations that are lightweight, accessible, and durable so that I can repurpose, reconfigure, and store them compactly,” she shares.

The large fabric tree sculpture is surrounded by 40,000 feet of sisal twine entangled on the floor and inserted into various glass containers placed almost ritually within the tangles, with water from nearby Lake Winnebago, the largest lake in Wisconsin, and the Fox River.

Envisioning the infinite connections within ecosystems

While planting new trees can play a role in mitigating climate change, data show that forests planted in the past 20 years represent less than 5% of the current global forest carbon sink. In addition to carbon sequestration, the roles forests play in regulating local rainfall and reducing flooding makes the protection of existing forests critical for climate mitigation.

With Ten Thousand Beings, Rosing hopes to increase awareness about connections not only between forests and lakes, but also the infinite relationships between even the most minuscule creatures and their roles within ecosystems. “When I try to understand the world, I imagine what invisible things might look like and all these tiny things are connected. I play with these ideas using shape to create visual rhythms and use color and texture to suggest hidden energies. I hope that my work inspires others to imagine and care about the complexities in the natural world that we are part of,” Rosing says.



Curator :

Artist ( Description ): 

Rosing's paintings and drawings have been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States and abroad, including Chicago, New York, Washington D.C., Tokyo, and Beijing. Her work is included in public and private collections internationally, including the State of Wisconsin Collection. She is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including an Individual Artist Fellowship from the City of Madison Arts Commission and the Wisconsin Arts Board. Furthering her environmental research, she was awarded artist residencies at the UW-Madison Department of Limnology’s Trout Lake Research Station and the St. Croix Watershed Research Station sponsored by the Science Museum of Minnesota. 

A long-time arts educator, Rosing taught college art courses in the Chicago area and Madison, Wisconsin, where she lives and maintains her studio. Born and raised in Appleton (WI), Rosing earned a BA at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a BFA at the University of Colorado-Denver, and an MFA at Northern Illinois University. Groveland Gallery in Minneapolis represents her work.

(920) 424-2235
Venue ( Address ): 

Alan Priebe Gallery

University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh

Arts & Communications Center, First floor, N102

1001 Elmwood, Oshkosh, WI 54901

Other events from Katherine Steichen Rosing

Ten Thousand Beings
10/13/2022 to 11/03/2022


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