Without Walls

A jaunt through the boundless visual worlds of six young, successful Columbia artists.

by David Shapiro '01CC Published Summer 2013
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David Brooks

Visiting David Brooks’s live-work loft studio in the Dumbo neighborhood of Brooklyn is like taking a trip to a natural-history museum. Mantels are lined with skulls, teeth, petrified wood, and taxidermied creatures: a bobcat, a fish, a flock of migratory birds. It’s a fitting environment for Brooks ’09SOA, who creates sculptures — often monumental in scale — that investigate the natural world and its relation to an encroaching human culture.

New York audiences are most likely to know Brooks from his site-specific installation Preserved Forest in MoMA PS1’s 2010 exhibition Greater New York. In this piece about deforestation, Brooks arranged nursery-grown trees in a sunken atrium to represent an Amazon rainforest. He then sprayed the forest with a cement truck’s worth of latex-laced concrete, a material that is susceptible to fissure from plant growth. Over time, the trees sent shoots through and around the concrete, fulfilling his prediction that the concrete and the organic matter would “begin to define each other.”

In another recent piece, Still Life with Stampede and Guano (2011), Brooks allowed concrete lawn sculptures of charging lions, elephants, and horses to collect a patina of guano from deliberate exposure to seabirds at the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center.

Portrait by Jörg Meyer

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