Artists Invade Each Other’s Space in One-of-a-Kind Exhibition at Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts

By Tom McLaughlin

 

The Stedman Gallery at Rutgers University–Camden opens its doors to “Space Invaders,” an innovative collaborative exhibition that redefines the gallery space and provides an immersive experience for visitors, through April 19.

Gallery hours are Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Invited by guest curator Leslie Kaufman, president of Philadelphia Sculptors, artists Jacintha Clark, Jeremy Maas, Elizabeth Mackie, Kaitlyn Paston, Joanna Platt, and Andi Steele create artworks that interact with each other as they respond to the space and architecture of the gallery.

“The ‘Space Invaders’ curator and artists assumed the risk of creating new work for this exhibition – work that has never been exhibited before – and of collaborating with each other, invading each other’s space, which artists rarely do,” says Cyril Reade, associate professor of art history and director of the Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts. “The result is work that is beguiling and magical.”

Combining objects, digital projections, light, and sound, the site-specific installations expand the boundaries of sculpture as they invade each other’s territory and encourage visitors to discover new ways to perceive and experience space.

Interested in exploring the relationships of interior and exterior space, each of the six artists creates a multilayered installation that includes some aspect of boundaries, pathways, or walls. The artists then reach past these to find ways to invade, or connect, with other works in the show.

“The artists worked together to construct the basic framework, then worked individually to finish each ‘room,’” says Kaufman. “At the end, they added windows and doorways to allow ideas, air, and people to pass from one part to another.”

Steele focuses on this idea of creating a transition from one space to another. Her piece, “Meanders,” is a glimmering passageway created by strands of monofilament line strung in unexpected patterns across a narrow section of the gallery. Directed spotlights create a moiré effect that makes the space appear to pulsate as viewers walk through it. Perceptions are altered as space appears to expand and contract.

Hidden at the back of the gallery, Paston’s installation is heard before it is seen. “Wiggle Room” is a video projected onto a bi-level ceiling space that is accompanied by an original soundscape of vocalizations and altered breathing. Imagery of arms and hands moves across the ceiling, occasionally reaching down the wall and then retreating back upwards.

“The relative isolation of the space maintains a feeling of privacy and intimacy, yet visitors are encouraged to “invade” it to allow them to explore their own inner musings,” says Kaufman.

Back in the larger gallery space, the dynamic between interior and exterior comes into play. Mackie’s multi-part installation “Skirt Continuum” presents three oversize skirts of different fabrics, hanging from the ceiling. Videos of moving tree branches and leaf and floral patterns are projected onto their surfaces. Another video of a woman in a skirt under trees is projected into an empty frame on a wall. Additional skirts patterned with mid-20th century nature designs hang from boldly painted movable walls. The space becomes feminized in a way that connects to domestic life well as to the harmonies of nature.

“Outside In,” Platt’s wall array of electrical conduits and glowing junction boxes references how a house or building’s electrical system conducts current, while emphasizing the idea of connections. The junction boxes are faced with hemispheric lenses and act as “windows” through which the viewer sees an illuminated photo or video of a scene, object, or part of a story.

Scenes from her childhood landscapes compress time as memory coexists with the present. Connections are also made with other artists in the show. Rays of monofilament from Steele’s “Meanders” become rays of sunlight as they appear to break through the clouds in one of the boxes in the other part of her installation, “Cumulus.” Other boxes guard mementos and images belonging to other artists.

Clark’s two-part installation is concerned with light, shadow and psychological space. For “Shape, Shadow, Space,” she uses porcelain to create minimalist objects: a window, building framework, a stairway, and a moon on one side of a wall, and venetian blinds dangling on the other side. The resulting isolation and stillness direct the mind and eye inward. For Still Life, she collaborated with Jeremy Maas to create a fantasy landscape made of porcelain, resin, and related materials. Displayed on a table, a still life of hard to recognize objects transforms into an animated landscape through the use of colorful video mapping. Barely perceptible “bug bots” scamper over the terrain, helping to confuse what is physical and what is virtual.

The Stedman Gallery is located in the Fine Arts Complex on Third Street, between Cooper Street and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, on the Rutgers–Camden campus. For directions to Rutgers–Camden, visit camden.rutgers.edu/visit/driving-directions.

For more information, contact Nancy Maguire at (856) 225-6245.

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