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Glow: Aspects of Art in Contemporary American Art
About the Exhibition
Eleven contemporary artists, including Alicia Beach, Terri Friedman, Christian
Garnett, Nancy Haynes, Craig Kauffman, Charles LaBelle, Alex Lopez, Kiki Seror,
Jennifer Steinkamp, Alan Wayne, and Yek provide avenues for the re-examination
of light. Light, necessary to vision, has almost always been a component of visual art,
although certain eras have emphasized its significance more adamantly than others.
The tenebrism of Caravaggio and de la Tour for example, represents the use of light in
the portrayal of spirituality. While the American Luminists used light to convey the
majesty of nature, the Impressionists availed themselves of light in a much more
scientific way. Conversely, much text-based conceptual art, in which content is more
important than form, regards light as altogether unnecessary. Although the preeminence
of conceptual art is waning, current debates over "theory vs. practice" or "meaning vs.
form" are reminiscent of the Renaissance divide between disegno (appealing to the mind)
and colore (appealing to the eye and body).
Working in a variety of media, the artists on view in Glow use real and
illusionistic light in decidedly visual ways, examining the new use and understanding of
light in our time. While light itself is immaterial, the viewer's awareness of her or
himself as an "embodied eye" is implicated in more recent works involving light.
Illusion, out of favor since minimalism, is another concern for many of the artists in this
exhibition. Works in the exhibition have been selected in order to reference other
relevant topics and include both abstract and representational approaches.
About the Artists
While each of the artists address the subject of light in one way or another, only a
few use actual illumination to achieve their goal. Jennifer Steinkamp projects her
digitally rendered imagery onto a transom window, animating and softening the
architecture with organic patterning. Charles LaBelle explores the quality of the
nocturnal landscape in much of his work. Here, a sculptural hotel sign glows pink and
distorted, mimicking the otherworldly light of night vision. Alex Lopez's vanity mirror
relief beckons viewers with its reflective surface and illuminated lights. Upon
approaching the piece, the viewer triggers an applause soundtrack, which reiterates the
theme of absorption and adoration. Kiki Seror's graphic texts, transcribed from actual
web chat rooms and backlit by a light box, lure the viewer into participation.
Because of its ability to contain and alter light, plastic has a long history of use by
California artists such as Craig Kauffman. In Terri Friedman's work, plastic is
transformed into an updated version of stained glass with the pouring of translucent
acrylic colors on window-like sheets. Alicia Beach and Yek utilize shaped wooden
supports and acrylic paint to create intense, atmospheric luminosity that literally glows.
Nancy Haynes pairs historical references?ns, gold leaf, and the cruciform?h
the popular technology of glow in the dark paint. Another New Yorker, Christian
Garnett, induces extreme illusions with spiritual overtones by relying on traditional
pigments rather than specifically reflective materials.
The lack of light is an equally important theme in the exhibition. Alan Wayne's dark
monochrome paintings?heavily pigmented that they absorb practically the artificial
light illuminating them? infused with the silent glow of resonating darkness. The
absence and presence of light in the works in Glow represent a range of
philosophical, symbolic and technological positions through which our changing world
may at least be partially illuminated.
Glow: Aspects of Light in Contemporary American Art is curated by Frances Colpitt,
Associate Professor of Art History and Criticism at the University of Texas at San
Antonio and organized by the UTSA Department of Art and Art History. Colpitt is a
corresponding editor for Art in America and the author of Minimal Art: The
Critical Perspective and Abstract Art in the Late Twentieth Century. Among
her numerous articles, reviews, and catalogue essays are many on contemporary abstract
painting. An expanded version of Glow will be on view at UTSA from
September 5 through October 4, 2002.
July 25 ?tober 6, 2002
Thursday, July 25, 6:30-8:00 PM
Gallery Walk-Thru with the Curator
Thursday, July 25, 7:00 PM
Brown Bag Lunch
Wednesday, September 25, 12:00-1:00 PM
Join us for a tour of Glow: Aspects of Light in Contemporary American Art and a
brown bag lunch provided by Pecan Street Deli. Please call ArtPace to make
All events held at ArtPace, 445 N. Main Avenue. Free parking at N. Flores and Savings
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PM, and by appointment. There is no charge for admission.
ArtPace, A Foundation for Contemporary Art | San Antonio serves as an advocate
for contemporary art and as a catalyst for the creation of significant art projects. We seek
to nurture emerging and established artists and to provide opportunities for inspiration,
experimentation and education. Through our International Artist-in-Residence Program,
we invite nine artists annually to participate in a two-month residency which supports the
evolution of new ideas in art. Our broad range of panels, lectures, artist talks, and studio
visits cultivates diverse audiences for contemporary art and provides a forum for ongoing
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