Faculty Selected for LBJ National Park’s Cabinet Oak Project

Published: September 13, 2022 | Author: Kenzie Lundberg | Read Time: 2 minutes

Rheana Gardner, associate professor of photography at Southern Utah UniversityRheana Gardner, associate professor of photography at Southern Utah University, has been selected as an artist in The Cabinet Oak Project, a juried art exhibition and live auction to support Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park.

The art exhibition will center on the Cabinet Oak, a live oak tree near the Texas White House in Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park. The tree, estimated to be about 300 years old, often provided shade to President Johnson, his cabinet members, and world leaders he worked with, earning the tree the name the Cabinet Oak. The selected artists will use pieces of a large branch that fell from the tree in 2019 to reimagine its rich heritage and bring it into the future with their artistic vision.

"I found the call through CaFÉ and was incredibly intrigued by the rich history of the material the artists would be working with and the following art auction and exhibition," said Gardner. "I love the idea that all artists receive a similar subject matter to start with and then create unique works of art specific to their disciplines."

Katie Robinson Edwards, Ph.D., executive director and curator of the UMLAUF Sculpture Garden and Museum in Austin, served as the juror and selected artists to participate based on the uniqueness and quality of their previous work. Once selected, artists have until December 2023 to submit their finished work.

Gardner's current work uses the chlorophyll printing process, an alternative photographic technique where photographic images are developed on natural leaves through the action of photosynthesis. This organic process does not use chemicals since the photographs are exposed directly to the sunlight, and the process can last anywhere from a day to several weeks.

The finished piece will be one-of-a-kind and incorporate historical imagery from the LBJ Presidential Library collection with the Cabinet Oak Tree piece as a base and design element.

As an artist and artist-educator, Gardner seeks to continue to add her unique expertise to the body of research within the field of photography.

"Exhibiting my work is a way to continue to push my professional practice," said Gardner. "As an art educator, I must remain relevant in my expertise and exemplify a true practicing artist for my students. In addition, showcasing my work allows me to enlighten people's understanding of the arts and introduces my students to various career options for an artist to support themselves."

Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park tells the story of the 36th President of the United States, beginning with his ancestors until his final resting place on his beloved LBJ Ranch. This entire "circle of life" gives the visitor a unique perspective into one of America's most noteworthy citizens by providing the most complete picture of any American president.

Funds raised by the Cabinet Oak Project will benefit the restoration and preservation of President Johnson's beloved Texas White House. Closed in 2018 due to structural and mechanical issues, the Park is embarking on a complete restoration of the home.

To see Gardner’s work and others, visit the Cabinet Oak Project’s website.

Tags: Photography Faculty College of Performing and Visual Arts

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