On Friday, Sept. 27, the Wriston Art Gallery welcomed in new exhibits for the fall season. There are three displays in each of the three rooms of the space: “Genetic Reflections” by Angela Johnson and Dr. Ahna Skop, “Sight’s Periphery” by Lauren Semivan and “Infinite Splendor, Infinite Light” from the collection of Bruce Walker.
The first collection, “Genetic Reflections” is a collaboration between artist Angela Johnson and scientist Dr. Ahna Skop. The display utilizes the reflective quality of mirrors to push the viewer to contemplate what our place in life is. Each piece is a mirror with the DNA sequence of a different organism etched on to the mirror along with its latin name and a small image of it. In order for the viewer to look at this piece, they have to stare at themselves amongst all of the DNA letter blocks, forcing them to see the similarity behind all of the organism’s genes. Every piece has this same effect. From Xenopus Laevis (the clawed frog), to Zea Mays (corn), all the way to the viewer, Homo Sapiens. The project opens a door to the common ground that every living being shares with one another.
The next room displays Lauren Semivan’s exhibition named “Sight’s Periphery,” meaning the outer limits of what we see. Semivan is a photographer who uses unique methods to create her image. Her artist statement doesn’t go into too much detail explaining her process, but the outcome is quite alluring to the eye. She only discloses her medium: most are printed on silver gelatin with three small images on toned cyanotypes. The subjects of her photographs include wire, paper, plastic roses, paintings and different textiles. What is intriguing about these pieces is how they appear to be painted directly on the photograph, obscuring the subject and blurring the space between the viewer and the subject. This abstraction is what lures in spectators, making the question what the reality actually is.
The last and largest showcase is the Bruce Walker Collection of Tibetan Religious Art, “Infinite Splendor, Infinite Light.” This collection is based around the Tibetan resistance project that occurred in the 1960s. Walker was an officer for the CIA during this time and assisted in this project code named ST CIRCUS.
The works on paper in the exhibition came from the Tibetan militia that was trained at Camp Hale in Colorado. In their free time, the young trainee soldiers were provided colored pencil and paper to draw with. These drawings depict some scenes of the Chinese invasion of Tibet but also other scenes from Tibetan history.
There are also other Tibetan paintings, or thangkas, on the walls in the gallery. This is held as some of the most important art forms of Tibetan Buddhism. They help Buddhists internalize the idea of enlightenment. Theses paintings are framed with ornate silks and hung from a cord attached to the top. The last pieces of the exhibit are the handful of Tibetan Buddhist ceremonial objects that Walker had collected in his time on the CIA project. The artifacts include musical instruments, religious statues, daggers and other objects used for either ceremonial or personal uses. Most of the objects come from the 19th century, but there is one that is all the way from the 13th century. There is also a documentary on the CIA in Tibet for those viewers who are interested in more information regarding the history behind the collection.
The Wriston Art Gallery is open Tuesday to Friday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday noon -4 p.m. If any readers are interested in a guided tour, the gallery holds 25-minute tours at noon on certain days during the fall term. Those days can be found posted at the Wriston building.