Relative Fields in a Garden
Heidi Howard and Liz Phillips

On the occasion of Queens International 2018: Volumes, mother Liz Phillips and daughter Heidi Howard present their first artistic collaboration, Relative Fields in a Garden. A multimedia installation, the work combines Howard’s vivid, gestural portraiture on the surface of the 40-foot wall with Phillips’ sound work, which creates interactive sound fields using wave transmissions. It remains on view as part of Queens Museum’s Large Wall series, featuring year-long commissions by women-identified artists.

The combination of image and sound includes fantastical flora and field recordings that bridge representation and abstraction, in a tender depiction of three generations of women and Phillips’ own Sunnyside, Queens garden as it transitions through the seasons. Mother and daughter collaborated on 3D elements such as ceramic flowers, bamboo, and birch veneer which animate the painting aurally as well as visually with tactile sound from Phillips’ transducers. Furthering exploring interactions between sensory information, Phillips’ composition of the sounds of wildlife, running water, leaves rustling, and city noises such as garbage pickup also responds to the passage of sunlight across the wall through the use of sensors.

The mother and daughter worked simultaneously. Howard invoked a synaesthetic approach–in which she related her brushstrokes and color choices to the experience of hearing Phillips’ sound selections as they played in the atrium of the museum. Both artists convey their perception of physical and emotional environments, transmuted through their respective sensibilities and mediums. They invite us to sit in three garden chairs previously owned by Phillips’ mother Geraldine, vibrating with sounds of the river she loved; here we can consider the domestic sphere of the garden and its politics of relation and simultaneityembodying care and control, unruliness and collaboration, work and pleasure, growth and decline.

Heidi Howard (b.1986, New York, NY) has exhibited her work at Nancy Margolis Gallery, New York, NY (2017, 2016, 2015), Gaa Gallery, Provincetown, MA and Cologne, Germany (2018, 2017), The Hunterdon Museum of Art, Clinton, NJ (2017), James Cohan Gallery, New York, NY (2016) and many more. She has been an artist in residence at Palazzo Monti (2018), Byrdcliffe (2014) and the Vermont Studio Center (2011). She received her BA from Sarah Lawrence College and her MFA from Columbia University. She lives and works between Amsterdam, The Netherlands and Queens, New York.

Liz Phillips (b. 1951, Jersey City, NJ) studied at Bennington College and received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1986. She has been making interactive sound installations for over four decades at venues such as Harvestworks on Governors Island, NY (2017); Creative Time (1981,2001); Lincoln Center, New York, NY (2002, 2001); the Jewish Museum, New York, NY (2002); Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria (1991, 1988); the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (1988, 1985); and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands (1978) and many more.

Image caption: Heidi Howard and Liz Phillips, Relative Fields in a Garden, 2018. Acrylic paint, ceramic, bamboo, birch veneer, mirror film, metal chairs, Serge analog synthesizer, sound transducers, light sensors and multichannel looping audio players. Courtesy the artists. Photo by Hai Zhang.

Relative Fields in a Garden was commissioned in conjunction with the exhibition, Queens International 2018: Volumes (October 7, 2018 – February 24, 2019) organized by QM Assistant Curator Sophia Marisa Lucas with artist Baseera Khan and additional collaborators at the Queens Museum and Queens Library.

Support for Relative Fields in a Garden, 2018 is provided by Agnes Gund. The Large Wall series at QM is supported by The Ferriday Fund Charitable Trust. 

Major funding for the Queens Museum is generously provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, the Lambent Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation. The official hotel sponsor of the Queens Museum is Boro New York.