These three works on paper, painted with black and gold sumi ink, were installed as part of the gallery show Field Work III at Co-Prosperity Sphere in Chicago, IL in May 2017. They use the Field Museum’s Muse sculptures as mediums to examine the role of museums in today’s landscape.
In the museum’s 1918 Annual Report, Charles Over Cornelius described the museum’s new home as “visible in white majesty from far upon the nearby lake” and the sculptor Henry Herring's four Muses slated to adorn the corners of the entry hall, were meant to embody that grander.
The faces of Record, Research, Science and Dissemination of Knowledge, so named by Herring, are indeed strong and stern, but equally, they are passive. Still, passive females - the way nearly all allegorical sculptures of that era are, whether representing liberty, justice or honor. But a museum is not a still, nor a quiet, place - the way taxonomy itself is neither still nor quiet, but rather a squirming chaotic organism, changing and adapting; taking things in and spitting things out — clamoring towards perfection in a ceaseless struggle.