The Thomas Cole National Historic Site presents The Pollinator Pavilion, a new public artwork by internationally renowned artists Mark Dion and Dana Sherwood. The new artwork provides a fantastical architectural setting that offers miraculous moments in which individuals can encounter hummingbirds while exploring a nurturing relationship with nature. The Pollinator Pavilion was designed specifically for the Thomas Cole National Historic Site.
The artists created this interactive artwork to provide sustenance to pollinators and a place of wonder for human visitors, who may have an up-close encounter with these enchanting creatures, particularly the fleeting Ruby-throated hummingbird, an important pollinator and the only hummingbird species that lives in this region. The open-air, lavender painted Gothic style gazebo is filled with living pollinator gardens, feeders, original paintings by the artists, and seating for one guest at a time. Designed to attract pollinators and humans to share the same space, the pavilion creates a radical decontextualization in which individuals can see themselves as part of nature and understand their own capacity to foster an environment of ecological balance.
The Pollinator Pavilion is a 21 ½-foot-high, painted wood, architectural confection draped with flowers, plants, and paintings by the artists, designed as much for hummingbirds as for people. Sherwood and Dion have worked with living animals for years and their approach is to emphasize the animal as an individual that is best appreciated by an actual face-to-face encounter. The Pollinator Pavilion invites human viewers to slow down and allow the process of pollination and feeding to be observed with reverence and joy.
This work was originally inspired by the influential series of paintings known as The Gems of Brazil (1863-64) by the nineteenth-century artist, Martin Johnson Heade (1819-1904), a protégé of Frederic Church, who was in turn a protégé of Cole. The Gems of Brazil will be on view as part of the major traveling exhibition, Cross Pollination: Heade, Cole, Church and our Contemporary Moment, created by the Thomas Cole Site (Catskill, NY), The Olana Partnership at Olana State Historic Site (Hudson, NY), and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (Bentonville, AR), which will be presented jointly and open in full at the Thomas Cole Site and Olana State Historic Site in Spring 2021. The Pollinator Pavilion anticipates its arrival and will be a part of that exhibition, which was delayed by a year due to COVID-19.