top of page

A nourishing exhibition in development with Michelle Gagliano

I-Could-Have-Been-a-Tree---Logo.jpg

Artists Michelle Gagliano and Beatrix Ost are collaborating on a body of work in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic. Inspired by the differing narratives in one another’s work, the artists aim to listen and respond to each other, similar to the “call and response” arrangement found in jazz music. The culmination of their collaboration will result in multiple works created together, as well as their individual work juxtaposed and exhibited together. Conscious of how few female artist collaborations there have been in the past 50 years, Gagliano and Ost are having a “conversation” through the shared canvas. While Ost’s work belongs to the surrealists, Gagliano’s work belongs to the abstracted landscape. The combination of the two narratives makes visible their connection on canvas and sculpture. 

Collaboration as an Act of Intimacy: The vision is to show the connectedness between humans and nature - the psychological  influence of the seasons, and the power of two minds. Many of the collaborative paintings were created using a technique that artists  call “Cadaver Exquisite” to create together in a chamber of intimate respect. Ost and Gagliano would pass paintings back and forth  without explanation or instruction - for a common thought of impact.  

These works celebrate humans and nature in all in that shared unspeakable yearning of survival. The vision of this exhibition is a  teaching one. Gagliano is the alchemist of light and Ost is the visionary of the future. The exhibition opens in the abstract and falls into  surrealism as a manifest of surprise, into the museum’s catalog of our mind. Reality is the only moment that is true; everything else is  surreal.  

Daring to Be, daring to Become. Anger is a tremendous energy source; some use it as a fire to burn and destroy, others use it as fuel to  build and ignite. But, the beauty of sitting with an empty mind, there is no place an artist would rather be than here, and now, so the  artist can see herself where they all together are. The exhibition will include five parts, plus an introductory entrance space. The number  5 represents many aspects in life - the human body and our physical world (5 major continents). 5 major color themes are also  throughout many of the works.  

The complete installation includes over 90 artworks. This exhibition is a completely immersive experience that also embraces all of the  other four senses beyond the visual. Though not interactive, the sense of touch is represented by the vibrant textures of the works both  as sculptural installations and paintings. There is also an audio soundtrack playing in each of the rooms - seducing the sense of sound  with a symphony of music and nature sounds. For the sense of smell the natural scent of roses from rose oil will fill the experience. For  taste, images of food and sculptural food items will be presented- real dried mushrooms and real baked bread. 

Room 1: The Promise

In this darkened room, the floor is covered with black rice, which is a historical allusion to the Chinese tradition of Emperor’s forbidden black rice which was only available to the upper class. Gilded objects from nature like stones and sticks are buried in the rice. We want to offer this plentiful rice as nourishment to all children. Five gilded children’s chairs sit in the center. Five is a recurring motif throughout the exhibition: five continents, colors of the Olympic flag, and parts of the human body. The chairs and rice create a hopeful tableau. But, gilded branches above cast a shadow over them. Paintings from the “Nature Nurture” series are on the walls. 

Screenshot 2023-03-09 at 5.54.26 PM.png
DP1-The-Exaulted-Cake.png

"Dissected Presence I:

The Exalted Cake"

2021

Oil on canvas

30x24"

"Dissected Presence II:

Absolute"

2021

Oil on canvas

30x24"

"Dissected Presence III:

Satisfaction"

2021

Oil on canvas

29x24"

"Dissected Presence IV: Invasion"

2021

Oil on canvas

29.5x24"

"Dissected Presence V:

Love Sort Of"

2021

Oil on canvas

32x24"

"Dissected Presence VI:

See You In Summer"

2021

Oil on canvas

30x24"

"Dissected Presence VII: Panorama"

2021

Oil on canvas

24.5x32.5"

"Dissected Presence IX:

The Exalted Cake"

2021

Oil on canvas

32x23.5"

"Dissected Presence VIII: Kitchen Symphony"

2021

Oil on canvas

30.5x23"

"Dissected Presence X: Chance Encounter"

2021

Oil on canvas

30x24"

"Dissected Presence XI: Improbable"

2021

Oil on canvas

24x31"

"The Promise"

2021

Pine wood, gold leaf

34x15x15"

IMG_4978.HEIC
IMG_1928.JPG

"Truth in the Roots"

2023

Virginia native tree, gold leaf, red died yarn, hands by Article22 from recycled bomb scraps

8'x40"

Room 2: Symbiotic Tango

In “Symbiotic Tango”, our conversation continues with a continuing path of black rice with five additional gilded wooden chairs and objects from nature. Around the room are 5 sets of 9 paintings - titled “Symbiotic Tango”.
The five chairs once sitting in serenity in the previous room have now tumbled askew. The seats of humanity are now at level with the rice and objects of nature. This room also holds a collection of five groups of nine paintings, each made with one color of the Olympic flag. Hidden within the abstract paintings are endless treasures and situations. The work required to interpret each scene practices the viewer to look deeper into nature itself, and the endless treasures hidden there. The title of each panel of each work completes a unique poem for each set of 5 paintings.

"Silence is..."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

"An Elixir..."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

"To Fill Your Mind With..."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

"It Speaks Only To You..."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

"It Gives You Strength..."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

"From You..."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

"With Clear Sentences..."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

"Nothing Is Lost..."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

"It Is Love."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

Symbiotic-Tango-Yellow-1.png
Symbiotic-Tango-Yellow-2.png
Symbiotic-Tango-Yellow-3.png
Symbiotic-Tango-Yellow-4.png
Symbiotic-Tango-Yellow-5.png
Symbiotic-Tango-Yellow-6.png

"Change Is..."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

"Transformation..."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

"You Give Yourself.."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

Symbiotic-Tango-Yellow-7.png
Symbiotic-Tango-Yellow-8.png
Symbiotic-Tango-Yellow-9.png

"Into The Perpetual Dance..."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

"Of Impermanence..."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

"The Truth of All Things..."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

"Under the Sun..."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

"Nature Knows..."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

"All Secrets."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

Symbiotic-Tango-White-1.png
Symbiotic-Tango-White-2.png
Symbiotic-Tango-White-3.png
Symbiotic-Tango-White-4.png
Symbiotic-Tango-White-5.png

"If I Give You..."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

Symbiotic-Tango-White-6.png

"Everything..."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

"You Will..."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

Symbiotic-Tango-White-7.png
Symbiotic-Tango-White-8.png
Symbiotic-Tango-White-9.png

"Take It."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

"If I Open..."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

"Your Eyes..."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

"To Everything..."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

"You Will Discover..."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

"You Will Become Empowered."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

Symbiotic-Tango-Red-4.png
Symbiotic-Tango-Red-5.png
Symbiotic-Tango-Red-6.png
Symbiotic-Tango-Red-1.png

"Intimacy Is..."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

Symbiotic-Tango-Red-2.png
Symbiotic-Tango-Red-3.png

"The Ground..."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

"For Detailed Knowledge..."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

"And Deep Understanding..."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

"Of All Things..."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

"Be It A Place..."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

Symbiotic-Tango-Red-7.png
Symbiotic-Tango-Red-8.png
Symbiotic-Tango-Red-9.png

"Of Serving As A Token of Familiarity..."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

"And A Realm of Comfort..."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

"And of Affection."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

Symbiotic-Tango-Green-1.png
Symbiotic-Tango-Green-2.png
Symbiotic-Tango-Green-3.png
Symbiotic-Tango-Green-4.png
Symbiotic-Tango-Green-5.png
Symbiotic-Tango-Green-6.png

"Nature Is..."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

"It's Power Grows..."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

"An Unforgiving God..."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

Symbiotic-Tango-Green-7.png
Symbiotic-Tango-Green-8.png
Symbiotic-Tango-Green-9.png

"In Proportion..."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

"To Your Greed."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

"Nature Is a Master..."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

"In Rejuvenating..."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

"It Has Unimaginable..."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

"Multitudes of Resources."

2021

Shoe polish and oil paint

24x24"

Room 3: Nature Nurture

In this room, the viewer is presented with a huge installation of Hanging Spheres: 5 various sized balls of gilded twisted vines containing golden objects representing 5 major continents of the world. Each of these balls are suspended above 5 ceramic bowls that have been broken and then repaired using Kintsugi treatment all resting on white rice. Surrounding the installation is a series of 5 paintings titled “Nature Nurture”. The chairs and black rice of beauty are replaced with bleached white rice dotted with plastic objects. Sitting among this are the broken and partially repaired clay bowls of differing sizes and forms. Above the tainted rice hangs gilded spheres of twigs which appear as beautiful jewels but are poisoned by everyday pollution inside. Each sphere contains everyday objects of humankind, like a shoe, plastic utensils, trash, toys, etc. On the walls are paintings attempting to excavate the form and beauty of nature, but which are also threatened by a kind of human decay

Screenshot 2023-03-09 at 5.54.46 PM.png

"The Wild Gift"

2021

Oil on paper, gold leaf

35x50"

"My DInner With You"

2021

Oil on paper, gold leaf

35x50"

"I Have to Play God in the Garden"

2021

Oil on paper, gold leaf

35x50"

"The Psychedelic Collapse"

2021

Oil on paper, gold leaf

35x50"

"No Conditions in Our Hands"

2021

Oil on paper, gold leaf

35x50"

Room 4: Beauty is Harsh

This room is flanked by two large canvas curtains painted with earth and holding sculptural masks (ceramic faces), embroidered mice. A table adorns the center of the room made of gilded wood surrounded by 5 bails of hay. The table contains another ceramic bowl - this one not fully repaired with its cracked pieces falling around it containing a
large loaf of fresh baked bread. Text adorns the wall of Beatrix Ost’s “Beauty is Harsh: Thoughts and Ongoing Inspirations”. This room also includes two sets of natural paintings by Michelle Gagliano and a painting by Beatrix Ost
The room welcomes visitors with its floor covered in straw. In the middle stands a modest gilded dinner table, holding aloft a large cracked bowl within which a loaf of bread sits. The straw underneath is the discarded waste left over from our daily bread. Within the straw also lays the shattered remains of broken bowls, symbolizing the scarcity of food. Beside the scene are two large linen wall hangings. Each curtain is decorated with scenes of the circus of irresponsibility, painted with Red Earth Clay. The wall hangings
also feature clay face masks and embroidered dead mice. Gilded sticks and leaves also hang suspended in this chaotic scene of human folly and nature’s perseverance. Abstract paintings depicting the reclamation of nature hang on either side of the entryway, as well as another painting portraying the king of nature’s possession of the Amazon.

Screenshot 2023-03-09 at 5.54.57 PM.png
Full-Curtain-B-August-2022.jpg

"The Irresistible  Dance: I"

2021

Earth, oil, gold, on canvas

7.5'x14'

Curtain-Detail-3.jpg
Curtain-Detail-2.jpg
Full-Curtain-A-August-2022.jpg

"The Irresistible  Dance: II"

2021

Earth, oil, gold, on canvas

7.5'x14'

Curtain-Detail-1.jpg
Curtain-Detail-4.jpg

Room 5: Look from the Edge

In the final room of the exhibition we are presented with a straw goddess sculpture laying supine on a metal cart. The straw figure rolled in gilded bindings is adorned with dried fresh mushrooms. In the center of the room is “The Last Tree” - a gilded tree surrounded with suspended “Nests” made of blown glass filled with natural elements. The room is completed with another series of seven paintings titled “Perpetuity Question”. The floor is once again covered in straw as viewers walk in on the reclining form of a straw body. The body is partially gilded; she lays on a wheeled gurney and is burdened by a corset of lead. Mushrooms sprout out of her body, signaling nature taking over. The lead corset is reminiscent lead poisoning, and among the straw at their feet plastic objects of artifice. Lovely looking packaged food and medicine are scattered here. The paintings on the walls depict scenes of personified nature, angry at its injury by man’s hand. Blocking the exit stands The Last Tree, gilded and exposed. From the branches hang birds’ nests encased in glass globes. It is an altar of devotion to Nature’s immeasurable beauty. But it is threatened and solemn, asking to be protected and recognized.

Screenshot 2023-03-09 at 5.55.09 PM.png
Firefly-Dance.png
Song-of-Eternity.png
Broken-Promise.png
Through-the-Woods.png
In-Conversation-with-You.png
The-God.png

"Firefly Dance"

2021

Oil on panel

50.5x32"

"Song of Eternity"

2021

Oil on panel

54x24.5"

"Broken Promise"

2021

Oil on canvas

56x29"

"The God"

2021

Oil on canvas

60x24"

Counted-Hour.png
The-Gift-of-Wrath.png

"In Conversation With You"

2021

Oil on canvas

58x46"

"Through the Woods"

2021

Oil on panel

60x36"

"Counted Hour"

2021

Oil on canvas

40x60"

"The Gift of Wrath"

2021

Oil on canvas

40x40""

FullSizeRender-preview 2.HEIC
Straw-Goddess.png
The_Last_Tree.jpg

"Straw Goddess"

2021

Straw, gilded bindings, mushrooms, 

6'x1'

"The Last Tree"

2019

Gold leaf, wood, Iron, Glass, Nests

96x60"

Screenshot 2023-03-13 at 5.46.50 PM.png
Screenshot 2023-03-13 at 5.47.18 PM.png
Screenshot 2023-03-13 at 5.47.12 PM.png

"The Oracles of New York / Hear, See, Scream"

1994

Gold, wood, bronze

72x24"

"The Boy in the Tree"

2023

Oil on linen

Writings on I Could have Been a Tree Instead

"Every Culture Describes A Version of The Earth"  - Deborah McLeod

"I Could Have Been A Tree Instead"  - Anna Buchanan

"Collaboration"  - Sarah Sargent

"On I could Have Been A Tree Instead"  - Robert Schultz

"Reflections on Nature"  - Beatrix Ost

"Collision in gold" in C-VILLE Weekly - Sarah Sargent

bottom of page