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"Glow: Aspects of Light in Contemporary American Art"
2002-11-23 until 2001-01-05
Texas Fine Arts Association at Jones Center for Contemporary Art
Austin, TX, USA United States of America

The Texas Fine Arts Association presents Glow: Aspects of Light in Contemporary American Art, a group exhibition conceived to explore the theme of light. The exhibition includes twelve contemporary artists, represented by one to three works each. Artists in the exhibition are Alicia Beach (Los Angeles), Sharon Ellis (Los Angeles), Terri Friedman (El Cerrito, CA), Christian Garnett (Brooklyn), Nancy Haynes (Brooklyn), Craig Kauffman (Los Angeles), Charles LaBelle (Los Angeles), Alex Lopez (San Antonio), Kiki Seror (New York/Amsterdam), Jennifer Steinkamp (Los Angeles), Alan Wayne (Los Angeles), and Yek (Las Vegas). Working in a variety of media, such as painting, photography, relief, assembled and fabricated sculpture, and video projection, these artists use real and illusionistic light in decidedly visual ways.

Light, which makes vision possible, has always been a component of visual art, although in certain periods light has been more significant than in others. The tenebrism of Caravaggio and de la Tour, for example, represents the use of light in the portrayal of spirituality. The American Luminists used light to convey the majesty of nature, while the Impressionists made light their primary subject matter in a more scientific manner. It was fundamental as a medium to artists Dan Flavin, Robert Irwin, and James Turrell beginning in the 1960s. This exhibition addresses how younger artists, who are returning to the exploration of form and vision following a period dominated by conceptual art, are making works of art with and about light in provocatively new and challenging ways.

While light itself is immaterial, the viewer's awareness of him/herself as an "embodied eye" (rather than a disembodied "visual ray," as critics of Clement Greenberg characterized his optical-based formalism) is implicated in the most recent works involving light. Inherent in Jennifer Steinkamp's projected videos of dancing color patterns are the black silhouettes of those who pass by them. Illusion, out of favor since minimalism, is another concern for many of the artists in this exhibition. In the inclusion of reflected color on the wall between Alicia Beach's vertical strips of painted wood and the fiery or star-strewn skies depicted in Sharon Ellis's paintings, the viewer is confronted with thoroughly convincing illusions. With a diverse selection of abstract and representational works, this exhibition illuminates the slippery and seductive medium of light and what types of messages and contradictions it can convey. Curated by Frances Colpitt, Associate Professor of Art History and Criticism at the University of Texas at San Antonio, the exhibition was organized by the University of Texas at San Antonio Art Gallery and the Department of Art and Art History. It was supported by a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts.

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