Temple in the trees
Human Nature is the culmination of Reboot Network member Tiffany Shlain’s 2022 Artist-in-Residence at SHACK15 in the SF Ferry Building. The show includes sculpture, photography and time-based media. This solo exhibition is presented by The National Women’s History Museum based in Washington DC and Women Connect4Good. Shlain writes here about the inspiration of the exhibit.
For me, nature has always been my temple – the place I feel awe, spirituality and a sense of humility, history, and interdependence on such a deep level. All the things a temple designed to recreate.
During Covid, in those early months, the only thing that would give me solace and calm was going deep into the redwoods of Mount Tam near my house. There I walked in between these towering trees that had bore witness to many things. I was comforted by this sense of all they had been through and survived.
My new exhibit, Human Nature, aims to tap into the sense of awe and humility a forest can inspire. I explore what happens when we step back to view ourselves within the expansiveness of nature and time and consider how this scale realignment can change our perspective, offer context, reveal absurdities, and evoke humility, insights, and awe.
One of ideas I explore and play with is the convention of the tree ring that stands at the entrance of Muir Woods and of many national parks with a timeline marking significant events. I love seeing all the events the tree has been alive for. But the timeline is usually very colonialistic and patriarchal, and it feels like we are being mansplained history. I’ve often felt the same way about Judaism, searching for any more female representation in the Torah, in our history and stories. Where are the women? Each year my husband and I add more overlooked women to our haggadah. We want our daughters to know women are part of the story, too.
One of the biggest sculptures in the show is my retelling the story of women in history on a tree ring. “Dendrochronology” means the science of tree ring dating. This piece is titled “Dendrofemonology,” In an era when we are rethinking monuments, this reframing shows a different history – recontextualizing the present and hopefully pointing to a better future.
The exhibition runs through December 15 and has live events in San Francisco and online ways to experience the show.
Find information about in person and online tours at tiffanyshlain.com/art
November 3: Artist Zoom Talk + Tour. Noon PT/3 p.m. ET on Zoom. RSVP here.
December 1: Artist Zoom Talk + Tour 11AM PT/2 p.m. ET on Zoom. RSVP here.
December 6: Artist Talk + Tour Live in SF 6pm to 7:30 p.m., SHACK15, The Ferry Building, SF. RSVP here
December 10: Public Art Tour Day Live in SF: Tours 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., SHACK15, The Ferry Building, SF. RSVP here.
About Tiffany Shlain: Honored by Newsweek as one of the “Women Shaping the 21st Century, Shlain is an artist, Emmy-nominated filmmaker, founder of the Webby Awards, and author of the national bestselling book 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week, which won the Marshall McLuhan Outstanding Book Award. The Museum of Modern Art in New York premiered her one woman spoken cinema show Dear Human. She has received over 80 awards and distinctions for her films (including The Tribe, The Making of a Mensch and Technology Shabbats) and her work, including selection by the Albert Einstein Foundation’s as one of the 100 people who carry on his legacy and the Neil Postman Award for Career Achievement in Public Intellectual Activity. The US State Department has used Shlain’s films to represent America at embassies around the world. Find more at TiffanyShlain.com and on Twitter and Instagram.