USF Art Museum Exhibit Unites Art & Nature

Mark Dion's installation, "The South Florida Wildlife Rescue Unit: Mobile Laboratory"  (photo courtesy Miami Art Museum)
Mark Dion's installation, "The South Florida Wildlife Rescue Unit: The Uniforms"  (photo courtesy Miami Art Museum)
TAMPA (2012-01-12) -

Nature and art meet in a new exhibit opening at the USF Contemporary Art Museum Friday, January 13.

Mark Dion: Troubleshooting is a collection of drawings, prints and other pieces that examine the natural world around us, particularly here in Florida.

But museum curator Jane Simon says that what makes Dion's work unusual is that he uses regular objects in his creations.

"He can often make things that are not considered to be art materials, like cabinets and other things.”

For example, there’s a work that honors 18th century American naturalist William Bartram.

“It's just a tarp covered with knapsacks and screwdrivers and other things that a naturalist might use in the field, he's elevated those things to art to make us think about our own interactions and scientific interactions with the natural environment."

Then there’s what may be the centerpiece of the exhibit, an installation named South Florida Wildlife Rescue Unit—Mobile Unit, 2006. It’s an emergency truck that could be used to save threatened species, complete with safari-like clothing and equipment, only the engine has been removed from the vehicle.

Friday's events include a presentation from Mark Dion at 6 pm in USF's Theater Two and a 7 pm opening reception at the USF Contemporary Art Museum.

The exhibit will be run through March 3. There’s also a number of other upcoming special events tied to the exhibit, including a book talk featuring author Laura Ogden at the Tampa Bay History Center on February 6, a colloquium featuring Mark Dion on February 10, and a Museum Scavenger Hunt on February 16.

For more information, contact the USF Contemporary Art Museum at 813-974-2849 or visit

To hear, WUSF University Beat producer Mark Schreiner’s full interview with museum curator Jane Simon, click on the Listen Now link at the top of this page.

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