The community-geared Grace Farms in New Canaan, Connecticut, which opened earlier this month, might be best recognised for its stunning ‘River’ building and untainted natural landscape, but within the SANAA-designed structure’s curving glass walls and nestled around its grounds is an equally noteworthy collection of specially commissioned artwork to be discovered.
Dedicated to bringing together communities, exploring areas of justice and spirituality and pitting itself as a center for learning, Grace Farms and its foundation have created a space armed with facilities that well surpasses other community-oriented gathering spaces. Its art collection is no different, with pieces from Thomas Demand, Olafur Eliasson, Teresita Fernandez, Susan Philipsz and Beatriz Milhazes on display.
Grace Farms’ collection has been curated by its curatorial advisor Yuko Hasegawa, chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo and a regular collaborator of SANAA’s. 'Art is both an opportunity to share an experience with others, and an pportunity for self-reflection,' she states. 'One of the key elements discussed during the conceptual process of this project was how best to bring together SANAA’s architectural language with the works on view.'
The results couldn’t be more in tune with the impression that Grace Farms leaves behind. In the library, two large photographic pieces by Thomas Demand, ‘Farm 56’ and ‘Farm 88’, depict the design evolution of the River building through SANAA’s architectural models – very much in the same vein of what Demand presented at his recent 'Latent Forms' exhibition in London. 'My contribution tries to show the richness of the creative process and the eminent role modeling played in the design of the building in which the work is installed,' the artist says.
In the dining hall, known as the Commons, Teresita Fernandez has created ‘Double Glass River’, a fluid configuration of small glass cubes installed on a curved wall that reflect different views of both the viewer and the surrounding landscape as its passed. Olafur Eliasson’s ‘Mat for Multidimensional prayers’ – thick woven mats made from Icelandic sheep’s wool - cuts a poignant figure on the stage in the building’s Sanctuary, while a sound installation by Glaswegian artist Susan Philipsz that’s inspired by musical annotation originating from Conneticut fills the air around a small pond in the woods.
With new site specific pieces from Eliasson and the Brazilian artist Beatriz Milhazes to be unveiled in 2016, there will be even more reasons to keep coming back for a visit.