Seeing Things in a Whole New Light by Tim Kane, The Times Union
Seeing things in a whole new light
Images in “Electron/Photon” bring new worlds in focus
Tim Kane, The Times Union – 10/5/17
With such a small gallery space, the Lake George Arts Project would seem to be limited in what art it could display. About the size of an average living room, the Courthouse Gallery is small even by community arts standards.
Yet, over the years, the gallery, under Laura Von Rosk, has regularly overcome this liability. A case in point is the current exhibit “Electron/Photon,” open through Oct. 27. Focusing on light and photography — not exactly a new topic — it examines how photons and electrons, the two micro-elements that carry light, can be manipulated into forms of expression through various media.
From different points of view and methods, a trio of artists expands our understanding of the world beyond our immediate sight, a vast place that encompasses much of the universe. In doing so, the layers of content emerge well beyond the gallery’s walls, pushing down the artificial boundaries of the built environment.
Working at the most diminutive level, Dee Breger’s images are made using a scanning electron microscope to magnify specimens 30,000 times. She then enhances the original prints, adding an aesthetic flair to the microbes. A tarantula’s leg becomes wistful feathers. Or a quiet forest.
It’s easy to get lost in her images as you focus on the tiny structures. When our senses are confronted by these colorful innerscapes of something beyond our perception, there is sense of wonder. Suran Song’s meditative explorations expand on this notion.
Her work is inspired in part by the practice of yoga. Here, she displays large-scale C-prints from a recent project “There’s More to Life Than Increasing Its Speed! We need each other here!” They depict flower mandalas projected onto the hands of yoga students held in various mudras — symbolic hand gestures — while practicing yogic breathing. The imagery is culled from the Sanskrit “Pushpam Veda” that expresses water as the basis of flower offerings to the deities.
Spend enough time, and you’ll find they radiate a stillness that is filled with so much energy. Not a frenetic type, but one that is calming and uplifting, a release from the past and future, allowing yourself to fully be in the here and now, but not entirely in the gallery space. They are ultimately about the metaphysics of mindfulness and reflection.
This theme is carried further by Eleanor Sweeney, but from a wholly different perspective. She employs wood, metal, paper and fabric, rather unusual materials for photography. The pictures in this show are made on Mylar. She places a piece of Plexiglas over the material against a tree or wall. Since the Mylar isn’t tight, the slightest breeze creates a reflective material.
Sweeney’s images recall the 19th-century landscape art movement called tonalism, which saw color and light as primary over line and composition. Like Sweeney, tonalism urges you to pause and wonder what is real and imagined.
Having all of these artists together packs a lot of content into a small space, but they somehow don’t crowd each other out at all; they find space beyond the confines of the walls. Their interaction together makes for a truly group exhibition that generates some electricity, rather than a three-artist assemblage merely vying for attention and negating each other.