PROVIDENCE, RI – The RISD Museum announces the opening of Being and Believing in the Natural World: Perspectives from the Ancient Mediterranean, Asia, and Indigenous North America on view in the Metcalf Galleries through May 7, 2023. The show is curated by Gina Borromeo, curator of ancient art; Sháńdíín Brown, Henry Luce Curatorial Fellow for Native American Art; and Wai Yee Chiong, associate curator of Asian art.

Highlighting different perspectives across cultures and time, the artworks in this exhibition consider complex and evolving relationships with and beliefs about nature. In more than 100 objects drawn from the RISD Museum’s collections, makers from 2000 BCE to the present day explore human relationships with the natural world. Their responses span a wide range of media and processes to express awe and reverence for nature’s abundance, beauty, and powers of destruction; to intercede with the divine; and to document the willful extraction of resources. Many of these objects have never been on view before. 

Curator Gina Borromeo states, “As nature carries different meanings for each of us today, it held wide-ranging significance to people throughout time and in different areas of the world. This exhibition allowed us, co-curators working in different fields, to tease out the ways that objects reveal how people engaged with the natural world through the objects they created and the materials they used for those objects. We hope that the exhibition successfully conveys the diversity and variation of human interactions with nature.” 

“This exhibition has been for me, an enriching learning experience,” Wai Yee Chiong says. “To have the privilege of working with talented individuals, each providing insightful, creative, and varied perspectives of the natural world, has been the most rewarding takeaway for me.”

Adds Sháńdíín Brown, “The works in this exhibition provide diverse views of the natural world. Through exploration of others’ perspectives, we are invited to further reflect on our own relationships with nature.”

The presentation of Being and Believing in the Natural World continues the RISD Museum’s focus on the collection as a source of research and exploration of pressing issues. The museum will complement the exhibition with issue 18 of its journal Manual. The Fall/Winter 2022 issue, Nature, features texts by the curators and includes contributions by k. funmilayo aileru, Josiah Luis Alderete, Carmen Arnold-Biucchi, Phillip E. Bloom, Paola Demattè, Benedict Gagliardi, Stephen Parman, Craig Santos Perez, Jen Thum, Brianna Turner,  and Melanie Yazzie.  Additionally, the museum has an accompanying staff-curated exhibition now on view titled Take Care which examines themes of local and global sustainability, materials and repair, biodiversity, oceans and pollution, deforestation, Indigenous kinship to the land, and resource extraction. Take Care is a call to action for stewardship of the land, the oceans, the earth, and each other.