Biosphere 2 Artist-In-Residence

Dana Fritz


Dana Fritz is an Associate Professor in the Department of Art & Art History at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she is also Coordinator of the Visual Literacy program.  Dana received a BFA from Kansas City Art Institute and an MFA from Arizona State University. Her honors include several Juror's Awards, an Arizona Commission on the Arts Fellowship, a Nebraska Arts Council/Lincoln Arts Council Impact Grant and a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange to Japan.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln has awarded several grants to support her work from the Research Council, Hixson-Lied Endowment and Arts & Humanities Enhancement Fund. Dana's work has been widely exhibited in the U.S. including at the Center for Photography at Woodstock, the Houston Center for Photography, the Museum of Nebraska Art, Illinois Wesleyan University and the Rubin Center for the Visual Arts at University of Texas at El Paso. In 2007 her Garden Views project was exhibited in its entirety in the gallery at Château de Villandry, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its faithfully restored Renaissance gardens. Her work is held in several collections including the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; New Mexico State University, Las Cruces; Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Arizona; Weeks Gallery Global Collection of Photography at Jamestown Community College, New York; and Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, France. She has been awarded artist residencies at two locations known for their significant cultural histories and gardens: Villa Montalvo in Saratoga, CA and Château de Rochefort-en-Terre in Brittany, France. During her 2008-09 residency at Biosphere 2 Dana will continue work on Terraria Gigantica: the World Under Glass, a project that will be featured in several 2009 exhibitions including at the Toyota Municipal Museum of Art, Toyota City, Japan and 516 Arts, Albuquerque, New Mexico in conjunction with the city-wide LAND/ART 2009 project.

Project Statement

"Terraria Gigantica: the World under Glass" developed out of my previous long-term project "Garden Views: the Culture of Nature" that examined formal gardening traditions in the eastern and western hemispheres. Through black and white photographs I examined formal gardening traditions in the eastern and western hemispheres. The prints revealed the strong organizational characteristics of the gardens' design while nodding to traditions in both horticulture and photography. Eschewing the distraction of color, my Garden Views photographs revealed the structure of gardens and their complex social, ecological, aesthetic and horticultural concepts and effects that often go unnoticed by the casual observer. These images highlighted the similarities and contrasts in cultivated and constructed landscapes throughout the world. Many formal gardens in the United States and their stylistic precedents in Europe and Asia exhibit strong design qualities including clipped shrubs, ordered paths and controlled views using natural materials to communicate a cultural message. As landscape theorist D.W. Meinig said, "Landscapes sustain us as creatures, but gardens display us as cultures." While these traditions grew out of a particular cultural context, their styles have been embraced and employed by people in vastly different times and places. This practice of designing, domesticating and improving upon nature simultaneously reveals our distance from and longing for the natural. Through color photographs, "Terraria Gigantica" examines the multiple roles of the world's largest indoor landscape complexes: Biosphere 2; the Desert Dome and Lied Jungle at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha; and the Eden Project near St. Austell, Cornwall, UK. These giant conservatory structures function simultaneously as research laboratories and tourist destinations. Rich in historical precedents, these architectural and engineering marvels are working symbols of our current relationship with the natural world. The continued interest in facilities that contain and display plants and animals in simulated natural environments seems to indicate a palpable concern for the future of nature as we know (or knew) it. As an artist and a global citizen, I am compelled to participate in a dialog about these issues. Seduced by the aesthetics of architecture and landscape design that seamlessly blends reality and simulation, I frame images and ideas with my camera pondering the distinctions between natural and artificial, and examining the evolving "nature" of nature.