• Pulse Dome Project: Art and Design by Don ZanFagna
    Mark Sloan
    Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, Charleston
    Oct 19, 2012 to Dec 08, 2012
    College of Charleston-School of the Arts

Don ZanFagna, untitled Pulse Dome concept, mixed media, circa 1970-80.

Pulse Dome Project: Art and Design by Don ZanFagna presents the artist's groundbreaking designs about the futuristic concept of "growing your own home." In the 1970's and 1980's, the artist imagined a home designed, constructed, and maintained with all organic processes and in harmony with natural systems.  Building on the pioneering research of Buckminster Fuller, William Katavolos, and many others, ZanFagna charted his own path to sustainable architecture. The Pulse Dome Project is something of a cry in the dark, a proclamation to all people, especially those charged with shaping our built environment, to wake up to the reality that our current architectural design systems are at odds with nature and therefore unsustainable. While this position is the accepted orthodoxy today, when ZanFagna was making these statements he was not following a trend, he was helping to establish one. This exhibition and catalog reintroduces ZanFagna's visionary design work and verbal provocations to a new generation of artists, architects, and designers while reviving a long dormant, yet increasingly relevant, body of work.

Born in Saunderstown, Rhode Island, in 1929, Don ZanFagna holds a degree in art, architecture, and design from the University of Michigan, and an MFA in painting from the University of Southern California. During the Korean War, he served as a fighter pilot. After the war in 1956, he received a Fulbright/Italian Government Grant for study in Italy. In the 1970s and 1980s, he held the chair of the Art Department at Rutgers University. The following decade, he was visiting eco-architecture professor at Pratt Institute, in Brooklyn, New York. His works have been shown in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and in nearly two hundred exhibitions nationally and internationally. In the late 1960s, after relocating from California to New York, ZanFagna removed himself from the commercial art world; he was more interested in the research and process of his art than its promotion or sale.

The exhibition's curator, Mark Sloan, has been the director and senior curator of the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston's School of the Arts since 1994. In addition to his curatorial work over a twenty-eight year career, he has authored or coauthored eleven books—on subjects as diverse as Russian conceptual art to natural history museums to early twentieth-century circus life. Sloan has focused his curatorial attention on the works of emerging and mid-career artists from around the world, with special emphasis on the oddly overlooked.

Linda Weintraub, coauthor of the exhibition catalog, has written many popular books about contemporary art including Art on the Edge and Over: Searching for Art's Meaning in Contemporary Society (Art Insights), In the Making: Creative Options for Contemporary Art (DAP and Thames & Hudson), a three-volume series entitled Avant-Guardians: Textlets in Art and Ecology (Artnow Publications), and the forthcoming TO LIFE! Eco-Art in Pursuit of a Sustainable Planet (University California Press). She is the founder and director of Artnow Publications. Weintraub received her MFA degree from Rutgers University. In addition to her career in writing, she was the art museum director and curator at the Art Institute at Bard College from 1982 to 1992 and has taught art at Oberlin College.

The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art (HICA) is administered by the School of the Arts at the College of Charleston and exists to advocate, exhibit, and interpret visual art, with an emphasis on contemporary art. Founded in 1979, HICA is committed to providing a direct experience with works of art in all media within an environment that fosters creativity, individuality, innovation, and education. HICA produces innovative contemporary art exhibitions, artist residencies, film screenings, performances, lectures, symposia, conferences, educational and outreach programs, a comprehensive website, and award-winning publications. Our program focuses exclusively on the work of emerging and mid-career artists from around the world. We originate almost all of our exhibitions, some of which travel nationally.