About Park Wonder

Park Wonder Exhibition, April 20th - July 17th, 2017, Visual Art Center of New Jersey

Park Wonder Exhibition, April 20th - July 17th, 2017, Visual Art Center of New Jersey


Last year The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey was the recipient of a prestigious "Imagine Your Parks" grant award from the National Endowment for the Arts. The grant of $25,000.00 supported the residency and exhibition of artist Matthew Jensen brought 4 New Jersey landscapes to life in our museum setting.

The Art Center is the only museum in New Jersey to be awarded an "Imagine Your Parks" grant, and only one of fifty-one "Parks" grants nationwide. "Imagine Your Parks" is a grant initiative from the National Endowment for the Arts created in partnership with the National Park Service to support projects that use the arts to engage people with memorable places and landscapes of the National Park System. Jensen, a 2016 Guggenheim Fellow, has exhibited at the Delaware Center for Contemporary Art, the Brandywine River Museum and the Brooklyn Museum of Art. His work is in the collection of the National Gallery of Art, the New York Public Library and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Jensen spent over a year exploring four northern New Jersey landscapes including the Passaic River waterway; Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge; Watchung Reservation and Gateway National Park, Sandy Hook Unit. His explorations begin as walks, and his resulting artwork integrates photography, sculpture, found materials and local history. By bringing visual traces of surrounding landscapes into a museum setting, his work fosters connections between our natural and cultural resources.

The resulting exhibition, called Park Wonder, is on view at the Art Center from April 17, 2017 through July 16, 2017. The exhibition will be accompanied by a full-color book, A number of programs, including artist-led walks and an Earth Day Celebration will take place in conjunction with the exhibition.

Jensen created these maps for each landscape as he believes, "you can pull contemporary art and really magical things out of well-known public spaces."

Wonder is the linchpin behind inspiration and inquiry

Jesse Prinz, on Wonder

When something beautiful, unexpected, or inexplicable triggers a feeling of surprise mixed with awe, we use the word wonder to define both the feeling and its cause. To wonder is also to think about with curiosity, to marvel, or to feel amazement. Each of these facets of wonder is essential for Matthew Jensen. A Brooklyn-based, multidisciplinary artist, Jensen begins his landscape-based work by wondering about a specific place and then exploring it on foot in search of something marvelous, mysterious, or unknown. Although he starts his projects without knowing what that “something” is, it inevitably reveals itself and becomes the focus for a work of art. The word wonder may connote something extraordinary, but Jensen is adept at mining it from the ordinary and making it accessible through his art.

Curator Mary Birmingham

View more of his work on his website: jensen-projects.com