Exhibitions
Agnes Denes
Wheatfield—An Inspiration. The seed is in the ground
June 15–October 19, 2024
Field
Agnes Denes

Agnes Denes, Wheatfield—A Confrontation, 1982 courtesy the artist and Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects. Photo: Agnes Denes

Overview

Tinworks is pleased to present a significant new work by artist Agnes Denes. Wheatfield - An Inspiration. The seed is in the ground can be found at Tinworks’ field, 719 N Ida and Cottonwood Ave in Bozeman’s northeast neighborhood.

A groundbreaking, internationally recognized figure, and one lauded as one of the first ecological artists, Denes engages science, philosophy, math, linguistics, technology, engineering, urban planning, music, and poetry in visionary artworks that explore environmental issues and humanity’s impact on the planet. One of her most celebrated works, Wheatfield—A Confrontation, was planted in New York City in 1982. In the forty years since that installation, this is the first time Denes has accepted an invitation to reposition the work in another American context.

Reimagining Wheatfield in Bozeman is particularly compelling because of the significant role of wheat in the history and economy of Montana, the increasing loss of farmland in the Gallatin Valley, and the opportunity to devote the field at Tinworks to public art installations. The scope of Wheatfield - An Inspiration demonstrates Tinworks' commitment to ambitious projects that provide the space and support for artists and the public to directly engage in contemporary issues and the complex challenges of our time. As Denes explains, “The Wheatfield is hope. There is renewal in the seed. We are planting hope.”

2024 Exhibition Season

Agnes Denes' Wheatfield - An Inspiration. The seed is in the ground is the touchstone of Tinworks Art’s 2024 exhibition season, The Lay of the Land, which also features work by five artists inspired by the land of the American West.

With an intergenerational mix of established and emerging artists, iconic work and newly commissioned installations, The Lay of the Land explores how land in the west is represented. The artworks included connect to land and place through their physical materiality—wheat, sediment, soot, clay, the sound of passing trains—and subject matter—the natural or industrial forces that have shaped the land of the west and depictions of western places shaped by memory or technology.

How to See the Wheatfield

Wheatfield - An inspiration. The seed is in the ground. is located on the corner of N Ida and Cottonwood Avenues. Entrance to the field is located west from the Mill Building and north from Tinworks parking lot.

How You Can Take Part

Denes invites the Bozeman community to participate in the artwork this spring by planting wheat in any available land, creating a city-wide wheatfield in solidarity with Wheatfield - An Inspiration. Packets of wheat seeds will be available at Tinworks in early May. Small mills for processing harvested wheat will be onsite at Tinworks in the fall.

You can become a part of the art now by completing Questionnaire, an artwork first begun in 1979 in which Denes poses questions about the most pressing issues facing humanity, inviting answers and solutions from the community. Denes will choose responses from current submissions, whose respondent will be invited to record their answers with Tinworks, for a sound installation that will be played onsite for the 2024 season.

Wheatfield - A Confrontation: Battery Park Landfill, Downtown Manhattan

About the Artist

Agnes Denes, a pioneering concept-based artist from the 1960s and 1970s, is renowned for her diverse works across various mediums. Her art, which spans science, philosophy, linguistics, and environmental concerns, is celebrated for its socio-political engagement. Notable projects include Rice/Tree/Burial (1968) and Wheatfield – A Confrontation (1982), praised as a landmark in Land Art. Denes has created significant earthworks like Tree Mountain–A Living Time Capsule in Finland. Her innovative drawings and prints are part of major global museum collections. Denes has received numerous prestigious awards, honorary doctorates, and fellowships, and has exhibited extensively worldwide. Born in Budapest in 1931, she was raised in Sweden and educated in the U.S.

From the Artist

Wheat is wonderful — it sustains humanity and is probably the most planted food next to rice. It’s a good metaphor.

—Artist Agnes Denes, 2024

The original ‘Wheatfield’ was a confrontation of people who run the world. I wanted leaders to rethink the use of land and the use of humanity. This ‘Wheatfield’ is a totally different idea — to bring people together.

—Artist Agnes Denes, 2024

When I first started talking about ecological concepts, they were laughing at me

—Artist Agnes Denes, 2024

I believe that art is the essence of life, as much as anything can be a true essence. It is extracted from existence by a process. Art is a reflection on life and an analysis of its structure. As such, art should be a great moving force shaping the future.

—Artist Agnes Denes, 1976

Take it from me, I am a mountain climber, and there is no way out but up. Not for the peak—I have long since understood about that—but for the mountain. You create the mountain, and then you climb it. Not for the final peak; the challenge is the process and the journey, and the unattainable answers are the lure.

—Artist Agnes Denes, 1980

'Wheatfield' was a symbol, a universal concept. It represented food, energy, commerce, world trade, economics. It referred to mismanagement, waste, world hunger, and ecological concerns. It was an intrusion into the Citadel, a confrontation of High Civilization. Then again, it was also Shangri-La, a small paradise, one's childhood, a hot summer afternoon in the country, peace, forgotten values, simple pleasure.

—Artist Agnes Denes, 1982

Planting Wheat in Solidarity

Thank you for being a part of the art by planting wheat in solidarity with Agnes Denes' Wheatfield.

If you've picked up seeds from Tinworks Art at Gallatin County Earth Day Festival, a Give Big event, or at our site at 719 N Ida, we ask that you first fill out the short sign-up via the link below.

Partners

A special thanks to our partners: Abundant Montana; Anderson School; Bozeman Public Library; Gallatin Valley Farm to School; Gallatin Valley Food Bank; KGVM; KGLT; Montana Science Center; MSU, College of Art and Architecture; MSU, Department of Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology; MSU, Hilleman Scholars; SAV DIgital Environments; The Extreme History Project; and Wild Crumb Bakery.