Instinct Gallery Artists Explore the Air Around Us

David Lefkowitz: <i>Outlying Area</i>

David Lefkowitz: Outlying Area

How often, as we walk or stand still, do we notice the air that surrounds us? How often do we notice it as we breathe it in and out? For "Art on Air," now on view at Instinct Gallery, artists ponder our relationships with the sky and air in interesting ways. 

David Sebberson's paintings capture the expansiveness of the sky. In his work we see the boundless space that air takes up but, as gallery director John Schuerman reminds us, the sky comes right down to the ground. 

Luke Erickson's photographs, meanwhile, depict desolate landscapes filled with light and shadow, while David Lefkowitz explores the air through a distortion in his paintings. 

One of the most compelling works comes from Kate Casanova, whose video piece is tucked away in the back of the gallery. For the project, Casanova strapped a video camera to her chest and filmed the sky above her. In one of her videos she films in Beijing, where the air is very polluted. The second video, filmed in Iowa, shows skies that are very clear. 

Beyond an environmental statement, Casanova's work "dissolves the separation that we have between atmosphere and breathing," Schulman says. "That's what this whole show is about. It's so easy to forget about this invisible envelope that sustains us, that we all exist within." 

While air might be invisible, some artists approach the topic by depicting the effect air has on things. For example, Jonathan Gomez Whitney's Hyperbole: Air, shows the gentle movement air makes on translucent drapery hung in a corner of the gallery. In Miranda Brandon's work, we see birds who appear to have just been smashed against a surface, giving a particularly chilling premonition of what will happen when they erect the new Vikings stadium, which has been dubbed a "death trap for birds."

Sean Smuda's "Blueprints" series, shown as a couple of singular framed pieces and as a portfolio of works printed on metal, features the sky prominently while not directly commenting on it. The post-9/11 series juxtaposes constructed landscapes of found-object sculptures with poetry translated into languages throughout the world. These post-apocalyptic indictments of U.S. imperialism use the sky in formidable ways, depicting the element as a true force of nature. There's also a dash of whimsy, however, with balloons taking flight and buoying sailboats.

Rise & Fall (Des Moines) Excerpt from Kate Casanova on Vimeo.


"Art on Air"
Through July 11
Instinct Gallery
940 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis