penumbral iterations #19, 2019

Terrain Biennial, Evanston IL


We participate in a series of iterative experiments on the pale blue dot that orbits the sun, our American democracy being a consequential experiment. The word penumbra embodies these two spaces – a literal term to describe the soft shadows that occur during an eclipse and a legal term referring to the implied rights emanating from the US Constitution.

In “penumbral iteration #19” Sonja Thomsen creates a framework that seeks to intersect the law of physics and the precariousness of our constitutional law. The resulting sculpture, a greenhouse for incubating ideas, a site where wonder is radical.

*Terrain Exhibitions was founded in Oak Park, Illinois by artist Sabina Ott in 2011 with a spirit of profound generosity, and community building. Over the course of seven years Ott invited over a hundred artists to exhibit site specific works in her front yard and on the porch at her home in Oak Park that she shared with her husband and author John Paulett. In 2013 Ott created the Terrain Biennial. Ott staged the month long public art event asking her neighbors to host artists she invited to exhibit in the biennial. The 2015, 2017 and 2019 Terrain Biennials grew to include host locations all over Oak Park and Chicago with many national and international locations as well. In the summer of 2018 Sabina Ott passed away leaving behind a legacy of radical energy, caring magic, and deep community

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“In other words, the First Amendment has a penumbra where privacy is protected from governmental intrusion.” Griswold v. Connecticut, US Supreme Court decision 1965