James Rossant’s work is on display at George Mason University through June 30 (courtesy Fenwick Library)
The work of Reston’s master planner James Rossant is on display at George Mason University through June 30.
The exhibit, “Cities and Memory: The Visionary Architecture of James Rossant with Poetry by Juliette Rossant,” displays the work of Rossant alongside poems that reflect on his art by his daughter, Juliette Rossant.
Rossant, who died in 2009, was an architect involved in the New Towns movements in the U.S., which sought to address issues related to urban overcrowding, air pollution and decay.
Rossant and his partner, William Conklin, developed the master plan for Reston in the early 1960s in an effort to create a suburban community that harmonized with urban amenities in park-like settings, according to GMU.
“Rossant’s plan proposed an organic mix of housing types and densities, green spaces, public sculpture, and mixed-use buildings, along with cultural facilities, schools, and churches,” the exhibit organizers said in a press release. “He believed that architecture could — should — be both beautiful and serve to build a better society.”
The exhibit features work from 1972 to 2009. Here’s more from the university on the exhibit:
The artworks in this exhibit range from 1972 to 2008 and give us insight into Rossant’s prodigious imagination and the fantastical processes that underpin his subsequent architectural creations. His subjects vary widely, from modernist portraits to imaginary cities to pastoral landscapes. Uniting them is Rossant’s deep commitment to realizing utopian ideals and visions. As described by architectural critic Joseph Giovannini, James Rossant’s drawings “fly off the grid, off the wagon of rationality, into a surrealism and humor of imagination liberated from the right angle and architectural propriety. […] These are temperamentally joyous drawings, propelled by curiosity and a spirit of exploration.”
His daughter’s poems act as responses to her father’s paintings. Her book — “Planet of the Blue Flowers” — will be published later this year by Finishing Line Press.
The work will be on display in Mason’s Fenwick Gallery during Fenwick Library’s business hours. The Conklin Rossant firm donated the Reston architect’s work to the University’s Special Collections Research Center.
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