Sunday, May 22, 2011

Prepare to be Deceived & Delighted at DAM

Photos courtesy of Delaware Art Museum
By Mara Goodman, PR Intern, Arts in Media

If you’re in the mood to go out on town, throw on some heels and a blazer, feeling sophisticated enough to have your mind impressed by its own limits, then the Delaware Art Museum’s “Perception/Deception: Illusion in Contemporary Art” exhibit would definitely be the place to go. But, if you’re in the mood to experience “funky” pieces of art, perhaps be perplexed by its meaning—which, let’s face it—is sometimes is a headspace we frequent, then you should definitely check out the DAM’s exhibit as well.

This exploration of contemporary art features four artists, Chul-Hyun Ahn, Larry Kagan, Robert Lazzarini, and Mary Temple, all of whose artwork creates three simultaneous responses. The first, confusion about how these pieces of art could possibly be created; the second, what they mean to creator and viewer; and the third, where does one stand when looking at each? Don’t expect to passively examine a painting in this exhibit; these pieces of art are not just 3-D, but involve a dimension of participation on the viewer’s part.

But don’t let participation scare you off: you don’t have to be a lover of art to enjoy and understand this exhibit. Lary Kagan’s work was by far my favorite, as its unique sculptures create shadows through a meticulous combination of steel welding and lighting. At its core, each piece is a collection of steel shapes, which, when examined unaccompanied appears to be a labyrinth of triangles and circles, but when partnered by the perfect lighting set-up and positioning, transforms into a wonderful image of shadows outlined on the wall. You’ll be surprised to find that it is not painted, as I initially assumed.

In particular, check out the collection of mosquitoes—two dead ones, and one alive, featured at the far wall of the exhibit. Never before have I been so interested in the structure, shape, and—surprisingly enough—the beauty of a mosquito. Normally I am too quick to kill the bugger before it bites me to look at the form of its body, but I found myself staring at these pieces for minutes on end trying to piece together the way each shape in the steel reflects the wing or the eye of the bug. Math, in every significance of the word, is really morphed into art in this exhibit. I never thought I would see the day that the math I learned in school was actually applied to something of such beautiful substance.

And the surprises don’t stop there. Especially if you check out Chul-Hyun Ahn’s work, which really challenge the idea that art is flat. These innovative creations are pretty indescribable, but they present, somehow, someway…infinity. If you never thought you could understand what infinity looks like, try peering into the doorway of one of these works. These pieces begin before your eyes and seem to never end, dissolving into a complete illusion of eternity.

Also be sure to keep an eye out for Mary Temple’s works. You may be confused to see on display only one of her sculptures, but don’t be deceived: the rest are hidden throughout the galleries. Her paintings feature the environment and the way that nature is reflected on our windows and walls; as faint shadows of the outside world. Her skill is irrefutably impressive, and fun to find.

But don’t let the thought of “modern art” frighten you. The stereotype is completely disregarded here—all these artists are both innovative and extremely talented. And if you feel like you need a little “classic” artwork afterwards, the museum is filled with plenty of fantastic Wyeths and Howard Pyles to balance out your visit. But as Danielle Rice, the director of the museum, described at the opening, there really is a high “wow” factor to these pieces—it is nearly impossible to understand how they are made and become what that they are. You can’t help but feel wowed. So, next time you feel sophisticated or ready to experience something new and different, make your way over to Rockford Park and prepare to be amazed!


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