March 04, 2019
The ShortNorth.org blog highlights the happenings of the Short North Arts District. In Art Spotlight, we feature the artists and gallerists of the District and explore their exhibitions, artworks, and more.
It’s four days into March 2019, and there are a couple of inches of snow on the ground. Save for a couple days’ warm weather during Fool’s Spring this year, 2019 has brought a cold, overcast winter. As we impatiently wait for warmer weather and the equinox approaches, the few minutes of additional sunlight we get until then each day hardly feels like a reward. For those who need a boost, the current Pizzuti Collection of the Columbus Museum of Art exhibition, titled Light, was curated specifically for you.
The exhibition opened at the Collection in early February to help stave off seasonal darkness by highlighting artwork that takes light as its muse and its material. “Light becomes the medium to translate experiences and make visible what we discern about our world,” reads the promotional blurb about the show from the Collection. With this central idea, other considerations emerge to recreate beauty and critique culture. We talked to Tyler Cann, Pizzuti Family Curator of Contemporary Art, and Mark Zuzik, Experience and Operations Manager, about the show and will discuss three of the works here.
As Zuzik described it, there are a handful of works that “take advantage of symbols and images and words to convey ideas in a playful or contradictory way” through the use of traditional neon signs. Four that are displayed in the same third-floor room, some flashing and some glowing continually, ask the viewer to consider various social and cultural questions. It is the fifth and largest piece, installed at the top of the stairs on the main floor of the building, that is the most lurid and obvious entry in this sub-medium of light.
The word “Forever” is emblazoned across the wall in red script, simulating drips of blood with the help of a computer-generated pattern. The piece, titled “Bloody Forever,” is one of a series by artists Tim Noble and Sue Webster in which they playfully use carnival-esque signage to display flashy words. In discussing the work, Noble has focused on how the word “forever” can be interpreted as relating to both a single human life and the infinite beyond. Additionally, the red drips suggest an emphasis that denotes the promises we make to each other despite the mutability of the word.
Another piece in the exhibit that uses wordplay to send a message is Andrea Bowers “Womxn-Women.” The artist, who uses her work as a form of human rights activism, conveys the power of language through art by contesting meaning. In the exhibit piece, a single letter of a neon sign flashes back and forth, between an “E” and an “X,” to create different thoughts about the same idea. The term “Womxn” is a fairly new one that seeks to express multiple meanings, one being that women are more than extensions of men, calling to mind certain Biblical teachings. Another meaning highlights how gender is understood, or misunderstood, as it were, and seeks to include the oft-excluded trans community.
The most visually striking piece in the exhibition is, arguably, Spencer Finch’s “Sunset (south Texas 6/20/03).” Comprised of five long rows of vibrantly colored fluorescent lights, this piece recalls the colors of a sunset that were measured by the artist using a colorimeter to capture data about the color values of the lights. Finch reproduced the sunset by transforming the date into colored filters, but as Cann points out, “without the benefit of a title, you would not recognize it as a sunset as such.” As a result, there is a romance to this piece through its success in turning the science used to capture a moment of a memory into an effective visual.
Much like the inspiration of this installation, its beauty cannot be fully appreciated from images alone. “Anyone who has tried to take a photograph of a sunset knows the remarkable inability of most cameras to capture the vastness and diversity of the experience: the movement of the sun as it slips toward the horizon, the passage of clouds, and the deftly changing colors all make up and experience that endures through time,” reads the gallery sign describing this piece. Indeed, the experience of seeing this piece is one you won’t soon forget. Set in a room unto itself on the uppermost floor, the light radiating from “Sunset” effectively replicates the feeling being before one, even if this presentation is more abstract and deconstructed.
Light will be on display at the Pizzuti Collection of the Columbus Museum of Art, located at 632 N. Park St, through May 12. Artists featured include Andrea Bowers, Spencer Finch, Claire Fontaine, Patrick Martinez, Josiah McElheny, Tim Noble and Sue Webster, and Alejandro Almanza Pereda. Visitors are also encouraged to stop by on March 24 from 12:00pm – 5:00pm for exhibition tours and family friendly drop-in activities including shadow puppetry and “lite brite” activations. Admission will be free during Community Day.
– Michelle Gibson