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We Were Wild: Reconstructing Western Landscapes

11/01/2019 - 11/30/2019


Opening Reception: First Friday, November 1, 2019

Artist Talk + Wheatpaste: Saturday, November 9, 2019 


We Were Wild, a collaborative project of Denver-based artists Meredith Feniak and Risa Friedman, presents Reconstructing Western Landscapes, a multi-media installation at Alto Gallery as part of Denver Arts Week’s First Friday Art Walk on November 1, 2019 in the Tennyson Street Cultural District. The exhibition runs through the month of November and features a film collaboration with Eileen Roscina Richardson and books designed in partnership with Andrea Floren

Reconstructing Western Landscapes explores the intersection of regional folklore, domesticity, architecture, and impermanence. The parallels between nature and architecture remain a driving theme behind We Were Wild’s work. In early 2019, Feniak and Friedman were invited to use a turn of the century Park Hill home slated for demolition as the site for artistic experimentation. Inspired by Gordon Matta-Clark’s iconic architectural interventions, Feniak and Friedman cut holes in the house, spray painted stencils, projected images and transplanted items from one space or object into another as a way to pull apart the history of the house and change its narrative.

During their exploration of the house, they found an illustration of a wolf in a pile of rubble. Research revealed the illustration was from an old copy of the New Mexican tale of Lobo the King of Currumpaw, written and illustrated by Ernest Thompson Seton. In the story, Seton is called in to kill Lobo, a North American gray wolf, after many other hunters failed. He eventually succeeds in killing Lobo, after first killing his mate Blanca, a white wolf. Seton’s experience with Lobo and Blanca catalyzed his activism for wildlife protection and his quest to stop the demonization of wolves in the West. 

The installation also explores rewilding, the idea of allowing natural processes to reshape land. The work grapples with the ongoing cycle of decay and reconstruction through photography and items salvaged from the demolished house and its surroundings. This will include doors, wallpaper, and hardware, as well as film of We Were Wild’s artistic interventions. A wheat paste will mark the entryway and disintegrate over the course of the exhibition. One-of-a-kind accordion and fold-up art books, altered photography prints and handmade pins will be available for sale.


We Were Wild is a joint project of Denver artists Meredith Feniak and Risa Friedman. We Were Wild creates interactive, hybrid fantasy worlds of real-life urban spaces using a collage of original photography, fabric, botanical images, and historical photos. Feniak experiments with both ancient and modern artistic techniques and materials. Her experience as a botanical artist and illustrator injects flora and fauna into We Were Wild’s installations. Friedman is a photographer and paper artist. She explores the built environment through a focus on architectural detail and blocks of color. Both artists have degrees in sociology which fuel their fascination with the evolving city and the interactive elements of their work.

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