Beth Lipman: InEarth 

Permanent Collection Gallery Current Exhibitions
Image for Beth Lipman, InEarth, Glass, wood, metal, paint, adhesive, 2017 (detail); Photo credit: Rich MaciejewskiBeth Lipman, InEarth, Glass, wood, metal, paint, adhesive, 2017 (detail); Photo credit: Rich Maciejewski
Ars longa, vita brevis—art is enduring, life is brief—is an observation originating with the ancients. The staying power of art makes it an ideal medium for reflecting on the brevity of life, and later artists took up the ancients' insight with memento mori paintings depicting desktop skulls, snuffed candles, and other symbols of transience that remind the viewer of the fragility of life and the inevitability of death.

In both medium and message, Beth Lipman's ornate glass installation lnEarth belongs to this tradition of situating human finitude within broader horizons. Glass itself is a suggestive substance, able to precisely imitate forms while presenting a ghostly, translucent aspect as though the object had been drained of some essential vitality.

With stand-ins for far-flung geological epochs, lnEarth imagines a post-Anthropocene future in which nature has reclaimed humanity's place at the table. Species of long-extinct plant life penetrate and occupy the tabletop, relegating the relics of human presence to the ground where they are poignantly positioned alongside an apparatus used for lowering caskets into the ground. The melancholy stillness of lnEarth encourages reflection on our fragile relationship with nature.