Maren Hassinger’s Evening Shadows evolved from a piece commissioned by the Whitney Museum of American Art for an indoor sculpture court. Titled Window Boxes, the sculpture for the Whitney was composed of several concrete boxes out of which steel cable branches “grew.” Facing demolition, the artwork was moved out west and became part of the University Art Museum’s permanent collection. The concrete boxes were reconfigured at the entrance of the UAM, where the twisting steel branches cast shadows in the late afternoon against the backdrop wall; as the sun begins to set, the long shadow of the sculpture rises up on the wall behind it.
Hassinger’s works continually underscore the uneasy relationship that exists between the constructed and natural worlds. She employs explicitly industrial elements, such as unfurled cable, galvanized steel, and concrete, to produce sculptures that are meant to imitate the organic objects of nature. By “planting” these forms into a developed landscape, such as that of the UAM, Hassinger heightens the tension between our manmade surroundings and their once unspoiled state. Outside of the UAM, the steel cable trees of Evening Shadows are like newly planted saplings as the galvanized branches gracefully stretch and sway amid the institutional landscaping.