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Striped Canary

Proposal for a Future Forest, 2023

Paper, wood, metal


Striped Canary will debut a site-specific work at Art on Paper that will continue to evolve throughout the fair. 

In reference to an image of the National Park Service wrapping giant sequoias in metal foil to protect them from wildfire, we’re imagining a future filled with unorthodox juxtapositions of material. The materiality of this work – paper and metal – highlights the tension between what is natural and manmade in an uncertain future.

Stephen B. Nguyen (born Little Falls, MN, 1976) and Wade Kavanaugh (born Portland, ME, 1979) have collaborated since 2005 as Striped Canary. They have created dozens of site-specific installations using paper and wood as their primary media. Their work has been commissioned by international galleries and museums such as Mass MoCA in the US and the Museum Rijswijk in Holland. Their collaborations with dance companies have been featured at world-renowned venues including the Brooklyn Academy of Music in Brooklyn, NY among others. Their work has been supported by art foundation grants from the Pollock-Krasner, Nancy Graves, and Jerome Foundations. Over 15 years they have created a body of work that ranges from large sculptural objects to warehouse-sized immersive environments that suggest layers of earth, old growth forests, the flow of a glacier and the swell of the sea.  

 The process of questioning at the root of their collaboration has encouraged experimentation and play that, otherwise, might not exist in their individual art practices. Formally, each work is site-specific and draws from imagery of the local environment, both natural and built. Conceptually, each work is developed on a foundation of “shared seeing,” where the artists seek to find common ground by actively investigating their own visual reference points, memories and assumptions. Ultimately, the work they create seeks to tap into the collective imagination of their audience in the same way that they work together, by presenting an alternate view, a juxtaposition, or an abstract version of a shared experience. 

Image details: Hubris, Atë, Nemesis, 2019, 50’x50’x20,’ wood. Commissioned by The Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Rockland, ME. This work was made with support from the Ellis-Beauregard Foundation. Copyright: Wade Kavanaugh and Stephen B. Nguyen. Photo credit: Dave Clough Photography.