The German language has a word for the seemingly universal appeal of woods, Waldgefuhl, or “forest feeling,” which suggests sources of origin and power. Working under tall trees, Chiles also felt a reassuring sense of belonging to a grand ecology. Like people, trees have seasons and must endure summers and winters. And the experience of sitting in their shade and looking for answers to life’s questions is ancient. The screened view of the heavens glimpsed through overhead foliage can suggest Plato’s cave and Nietzsche’s metaphysics: profound truths are revealed only in brief flashes. For Chiles, Theater represents a personal cosmology, or way of understanding the world, and her swirling salon-style installation of the photographs highlights this universality.

-Toby Kamps, Senior Curator, The Menil Collection