The use of light is featured prominently in two exhibits opening today at the MAEP Galleries at the Minnesota Institute of Arts. "How to Make a World" by Jaron Childs and "Anti-Newton" by Jonathan Bruce Williams couldn't be more different, with one firmly in based in realism and the other focused on more conceptual work. However, both artists explore light in their own realm of visual art.
At first look, Childs's paintings look like photographs. It's only upon getting up close that you can see the brush strokes and deviations the artist takes from the photographic source material. For example, in one painting, Childs captures the image of a sun setting over a body of water. The way he's able to capture the glowing light of the sun is pretty magical, and only when you get up close can you see the tiny brushstrokes creating the glimmering reflection on the water.
According to MAEP coordinator Christopher Atkins, Childs was a museum guard at the MIA for 11 years. He now works as a painting restorer at the Museum of Russian Art, often spending months on a single piece. "How to Make a World" contains 11 paintings that depict the artist's wife, his young son, and places he's visited. Atkins says that while some people might see sentimentality in Childs's photorealism, the work goes beyond simple portrayals of his subjects. Childs spends so much time on each painting that the depth of field of the original photograph drops off.
What stands out in many of Childs's pieces is the light. His subjects seem to radiate a warm glow, and Childs pays particular detail to how light bounces off objects and people. It becomes a character of its own.
In stark contrast to Childs's meditative and realistic paintings, Jonathan Bruce William's show, "Anti-Newton," contains a frenetic energy and a cerebral concept. Like Childs's though, Williams uses light in interesting ways.
Digital rendering of "Anti-Newton," 2013 by Jonathan Bruce Williams
"Anti-Newton" is a large sculptural work that uses technology to play with how we see different colors of light. Installed in a dark gallery, the only illumination comes from a spinning 10-foot blade with changing, multi-color lights. Between the spinning of the blade and the rate at which the lights alternate, you might not catch that the lights are changing, unless you are paying attention.
Underneath the spinning blade is a tall structure that allows viewers to look inside through various filters and see the lights distorted through a camera lens. The various viewing stations on each side of the structure are fairly close together, so funny social interaction may end up happening, especially on opening night.
IF YOU GO:
"How to Make a World" and "Anti-Newton" Opening reception 7-9 p.m. Thursday, January 16 MAEP Galleries at the MIA 2400 Third Ave. S., Minneapolis Through March 30 There will be an artists' talk at 7 p.m. Thursday, February 20 and special guests at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 20