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Knitted Sweaters for Plants: Sculptor Elizabeth Demaray Domesticates the Great Outdoors

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NEW PALTZ -- Using her background in cognitive psychology and neuroscience to create sculptures that challenge our perceptions of the visual world, sculptor Elizabeth Demaray will give a presentation about her work on Wednesday, March 9 at 7:30 p.m. at the State University of New York at New Paltz, Lecture Center Room 102. In 2003, Demaray won the prestigious 2003 Aldrich Museum Emerging Artist Award. Her lecture at SUNY New Paltz is sponsored by the Student Art Alliance. As an undergraduate student at the University of California at Berkeley, Demaray majored in science and went on to receive an M.F.A. from UC Berkeley's Department of Art Practice. Her focus in both science and art has enabled her to make profound connections between the two, exploring how these processes are mediated by basic psychological needs, such as care, control, taxonomy and love.

As a conceptually based sculptor, Demaray has domesticated the great outdoors by knitting sweaters for plants, upholstering stones, and manufacturing alternative forms of housing for hermit crabs out of plastic. In a recent work titled "The Nike Missile Cozy Project," Demaray upholstered a 10-ton Nike-Hercules Nuclear Warhead in eighty-eight yards of light blue quilted satin. In hand mapping the contours of the warhead in its silo at the Headlands Nike Missile Site in Sausalito, California, Demaray makes approachable the otherwise adverse object.

Part I of "The Window Box Project," (dedicated to growing the native grasses of New York and New Jersey, in window boxes, in Queens) consists of an elevated field installed in Queens that has been planted with the original indigenous grasses that no longer grow in this region. The piece is interactive, inviting individual viewers to walk underneath, step on a small ladder and put their head up through a viewing window in the center. This allows the participant to be exactly head high with the grasses. What is seen is the sky and surrounding area as if viewed through the native grasslands that once grew where the viewer stands.

Demaray has exhibited nationally and is the recipient of a 2003 Aldrich Emerging Artist Award, The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Arts, Ct.; a 2002 California Artist in Residents Award, Headlands Center for the Arts, Ca.; 2002 National Studio Award from P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York; and the Socrates Sculpture Park Emerging Artist Fellowship Award in 2001, amongst others. Demaray currently teaches at Rutgers University, where she is head of the sculpture department.

The Art Lecture Series is sponsored by the Student Art Alliance, a member of the Student Association. All lectures are free and open to all. For further information call (845) 257-3872 or visit the web

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