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New York Times Author Keri Smith Launches First-Ever Wander Society’s Adventure Lab at OLANA

Are you willing to go on an adventure without knowing where you will end up? If so, The Wander Society’s Adventure Labis a perfect place to start. New York Times best-selling author and conceptual artist Keri Smith has installed an art installation that you can enter in the landscape at OLANA on view now through December.

When visitors walk into Smith’s The Wander Society’s Adventure Lab, the hope is that observation and discovery is activated. The more a visitor looks around this tented exhibition, the more layers appear. Jars of natural specimens, inspirational books, handpicked quotes, chairs and tables, various machines and art scatter the interior. The tent becomes larger than life as your imagination engages.

Keri Smith is a conceptual artist and a bestselling author of Wreck This Journaland The Wander Society. With the support of The Olana Partnership, Smith has now created The Wander Society’s Adventure Lab,a literal and conceptual art installation on the location of Frederic Church’s original painting studio which is no longer standing. Inside a canvas tent on a cedar platform, her creative ideas emerge off the written page and into Frederic Church’s landscape. This tent is also informed by Frederic Church’s camping packing lists, books about camping life in his library, and Isabel Church’s journal entries about caravan tenting in the Middle East. Keri Smith’s installation coincides with this year’s exhibition installed in the Main House titled Costume & Custom: Middle Eastern Threads at Olana.

Church and Smith’s passions are both products of their respective moment in history. Church was an avid adventure traveler and was concerned with issues at home; in specific he was concerned about the development and industrialization in the 19th century along the Hudson River, was part of early land conservation and preservation projects, and he and his teacher Thomas Cole worried about the health and morality of their communities relative to “advancing technologies.” Today, Smith is also a wanderer/traveler, and also shares concerns about the environment, climate change, and advancing technologies—about quality of life, along with protecting resources and aesthetics. Church held the same desire to be within nature that Smith still fiercely feels today. They both believe that to represent and encourage the exploration of the natural world in others is central to well-being. The coaxing of that connection is essential to both their work.

A few years ago, Smith was browsing at her local bookstore when she stumbled upon strange notes in a worn copy of Leaves of Grassby Walt Whitman: “WW will show you the way,” “Solivitur ambulando,” and then “The Wander Society,” accompanied by a small thunderbolt symbol. Intrigued, she followed these clues which led her to uncover the secret group – The Wander Society. Keri Smith compiled all of her findings into her book The Wander Society, a manifesto of this underground group which believes in order to find your way in the world, you must wander.

 Olana, the greatest masterpiece of the Hudson River School landscape artist Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900) is the ideal first home for what Smith hopes will be an inspiring installment. Church designed the Main House and landscape of Olana as a holistic environment for integrating his ideas about art, architecture, landscape design, and environmental conservation.  Further, as a Hudson River School painter, Church was an explorer and wanderer who, like Smith, often used literary and scientific books as the point of departure for his own artistic adventures and creativity.

For general questions about this installation, please contact Olana’s Education Department at education@olana.org.The Adventure Lab at OLANA is free and open to the public from 9am-5pm daily and on view until December 1, 2018. The installation is designed for visitors of all ages with no advance reservations required to explore this project.

ABOUT KERI SMITH Keri Smith is a bestselling author, illustrator, and thinker. Her books (including the beloved Wreck This Journalseries and The Wander Society) have sold over 7 million copies worldwide. She is also the creator of Wreck This App, This is Not an App, and the Pocket Scavengerapp.

ABOUT OLANA AND THE OLANA PARTNERSHIPOlana’s 250-acre artist-designed landscape with five miles of carriage roads and a Persian-inspired house at its summit embraces unrivaled panoramic views of the Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountains and welcomes more than 170,000 visitors annually. It is administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Taconic Region, is a designated National Historic Landmark and one of the most visited sites in the state. The Olana Partnership, a private not-for-profit education corporation, works cooperatively with New York State to support the restoration, conservation, and interpretation of Olana State Historic Site. For more information visit www.OLANA.org.