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Ben Diller 'Rooted' at Contemporary Arts Center

Last week while attending a meeting, I stumbled upon a lovely art installation in the “Emerge Gallery” on the first floor under the ramp at the Contemporary Arts Center.

With “Rooted,” artist Ben Diller has transformed the space into an homage to the environment as well as to his grandfather. The site-specific installation juxtaposes industrial sculptures made from locally salvaged metals and woods with life-sized trees drawn in charcoal directly onto the walls. Inserted into the walls in the negative spaces between the trees are small elliptical drawings done by the artist’s wife, Cynthia Giachetti.

These miniatures were Inspired by Diller’s grandfather, an architect and a naturalist who worked in Georgia and Tennessee. Watching his grandfather draw and paint as a child, Diller was inspired to start drawing himself. He was an inspiration to Diller not only in his art, but also in his love for nature and appreciation of the environment. Memories of his grandfather gave the artist a feeling of hope -- something he, in turn, hopes the viewer takes away from his installation.

“The Emerge Gallery” is part of the Contemporary Arts Center’s First Floor Initiative. The space is dedicated to displaying site-specific works by emerging artists. Ben Diller’s installation “Rooted” is on view through Saturday, Jan. 19. The Contemporary Arts Center has expanded its hours to six days a week, from 11-5 Wed-Mon, free to Louisiana residents every day (!).

Christy Wood writes about the New Orleans art scene for NolaVie. She is co-director of LeMieux Galleries.