Where we lay our heads at night is such a vibrant part of who we are. Beyond the floor plan and color palette, the vibe and very concept of “home” is one that differs by person, region and culture. A newly opened exhibit at the Dairy Arts Center, “Modern Habitat,” explores the concept of home with an eclectic display of paintings, photography, sculptures, sketches and offerings from some of the region’s most notable architects and designers.

“The central theme of the exhibition is based on the human habitat, most often being our home,” said curator Jessica Kooiman Parker. “As I was curating the exhibition, I thought a lot about the idea of home and how different that is for everyone. I felt that the exhibition needed to include those without a home as well to really give the full picture of modern times.”

Perhaps the most thought-provoking and powerful element of “Modern Habitat” comes in the intimate photographs Mike Homner has taken of homeless individuals throughout Boulder. He captures the pure essence of each subject — shining a light on the humanistic qualities of those who are often easily disregarded.

Mike Homner/ Courtesy photo
“Miracle” by photographer Mike Homner will be on display at the Dairy’s “Modern Habitat” through Oct. 13.

It’s Parker’s hope that this raw and compelling portraiture will spark a dialogue about homelessness across the Front Range and encourage visitors to learn more about ways they can help, such as giving to or volunteering at Boulder’s Emergency Family Assistance Association — a longstanding organization that helps folks with medical costs, family housing and basic needs.

Mike Homner/ Courtesy photo
“Drifter,” a photograph by Mike Homner, will be on display as part of the Dairy’s “Modern Habitat” exhibit that runs through Oct. 13.


“It’s been a very big undertaking to bring this many artists and ideas together for a cohesive show and seeing it finally come together I expect will be the most rewarding,” said Parker.

The Front Range is home to numerous architectural innovators who bring fresh designs to an already appealing landscape. Visitors can see the methods artists utilize in order to achieve an ideal end goal.

“During the process, I’d say that working with the team behind Month of Modern was surprisingly rewarding due to their openness and willingness to help connect me to the architectural community here in Boulder,” said Parker. “I was blown away by the positive response and excitement around the idea.”

Visitors will have a chance to get a glimpse into the busied minds of designers.
Scott Bennett, founder of Denver-based furniture designer Housefish, showcases many flawed furniture failures with a stacked pile that speaks to the fact that mistakes and the process of elimination eventually leads to success. Pieces from Workshop 8, HMH Architecture + Interiors and Renée del Gaudio Architecture show the artistry and intricacy behind many a project.

Margie Criner/ Courtesy photo
Sculptor Margie Criner creates miniature dwellings. Pictured above is her piece “King for a Day.” Visitors can view her work at the Dairy Center’s exhibit “Modern Habitat” running through Oct. 13.

The bold and motion-filled works of architect-turned-modern-painter Will Day are inspired by his decision of moving past delivering what clients want and fully embracing his own creative spirit. Yet, the sketch-like lines and doodles are reminiscent of the brainstorming he did when seeking to realize a client’s vision.

In conjunction with “Modern Habitat,” the Dairy will screen “Eileen Gray: Designer and Architect” — a film highlighting the many accomplishments of an Irish architect and furniture designer who was instrumental in the Modern movement, from Sept. 11- 14, at The Boedecker.

“As a female artist, in the early-1900s, she brought an unbelievable amount of creativity to a field dominated by men,” said Parker. “She was an entrepreneur, designer, painter, photographer and an architect with a graceful and minimalist perspective which continues to inspire us today.”

The well-curated exhibit also serves to highlight those industry pros that are helping to foster more self-sufficiency, economic self-determination and ecological resilience within communities that need it most.

“Pyatt Studio highlights the community and stories behind one of their largest projects — Thunder Valley at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota,” said Parker. “Their practice is more a social art and political act built from profound relationships and hard work, focusing on people, place, craft and community.”

From seeing the growth and current and completed projects of Boulder-based Sopher Sparn Architects, a firm responsible for giving the Dairy its whole new look, to glimpsing at the itty bitty doll house-like structures of Chicago-based sculptor Margie Criner, this latest exhibit covers a wide-range of subject matter all centered around dwellings, spaces that offer stability and what emotions they evoke.

“Hopefully visitors leave with a fresh desire for human connection, rather than our connection to material things,” said Parker. “But, we all desire some material comfort, so I also hope they leave with a greater appreciation for the structures that surround them.”

If you go

What: Modern Habitat

When: through Oct. 13

Where: Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder

Cost: $5 requested donation

More info: thedairy.org/event/exhibit-on-display-modern-habitat