Splitting Light art exhibit comes to UB

Exhibition in Center for the Arts examines the idea and structure of color

At the very back of the First Floor UB Art Gallery, Amanda Browder’s piece, “Prismatic Illusions,” coveres the wall with a crisscrossing of 30 feet high, hand-sewn patches of multi-colored fabric.

Around the corner, Gabriel Dawe’s installation, “Gateway,” hangs from the ceiling, an assortment of thousands of yellow, orange, red, violet and purple strands that looks like a shimmering curtain of color across the room.

A few feet away, John Knuth’s “Stellar Dispersion” installation hangs on the wall, four panels of dotted blacks, whites, blues, browns and reds created the residue left from flies and other insects.

Browder, Dawe and Knuth are three of the 10 artists whose work premiered in UB’s Art Gallery in the Center for the Arts on Thursday night in the exhibit Splitting Light. Rachel Adams, associate curator of the University Art Gallery, curated the exhibit, focusing the show on how color is used as an idea, inspiration and theme through different mediums and artists.

Alejandra Cisenros, a sophomore English and psychology major, said some of the installations in the exhibit used color in ways she had never seen before.

“Many things I’ve seen in here hanging up I’ve never seen put into images before – the fly wall, I’ve never seen flies used that way before” she said. “It’s interesting and incredible to see how people interpret color so differently.”

Cisenros said her favorite artist in the exhibit was Hap Tivey’s.

Tivey’s three pieces, “Mahakala, Red Again,” “Shadow Is the Color of My Mind,” and “Wavelength of Speech” projected on the walls in a darkened room in the gallery, filling the room with swirling spots of red and blue light.

Of the 10 artists, only four were able to make the show: Shiva Aliabadi, Amanda Browder, Erin Curtis and Tivey.

Shiva Aliabadi’s pieces, “Traces III” and “Yield II,” were some of the most eye-catching exhibits, right in the middle of the gallery. “Traces III” was a three line smear of bright powder, starting on the wall and continuing on the ground. “Yield II” was a composition of copper squares covering a wall, constantly flashing as they reflected light.

“You never know how your work is going to be received in a show,” Aliabadi said. “I used to worry about it, but whatever happens, happens.”

Adams said this was the first show she has curated for the university and was ecstatic about how everything in the exhibit coalesced so well – from the artists’ installations to the artists themselves.

“When you do a big group show like this with a lot of work, the most satisfying thing is seeing all connections that happen when it all comes together,” she said. “Not just the theme, but even how the artists compose and design their pieces.”

Adams said she had been working on this exhibit for quite some time now. The theme of color and its manipulations, she said, she had wanted to pursue ever since 2012.

Erin Curtis was one of the first artists invited to participate in the exhibit.

Curtis’s piece “Lost Landscape” turns the windows of the gallery’s entrance into panels of sharp, shifting browns and blues using photo tex, contact paper and vinyl, mediums Curtis said she had never used before.

“I feel most connected to the larger world when I’m creating,” Curtis said. “I knew when Rachel asked me if I was interested that I would make a piece – I love engaging with color in a different way than usual.

Browder’s installation, “Prismatic Illusions,” used her ideas of color to create a piece that reflects the local community.

Her installation used different segments of fabric donated by the community of Buffalo as the medium. Browner also held a “public sewing day” where different schools and members of the Buffalo community came to help her sew her enormous fabric triangles together.

Initially, Browder’s piece premiered at the Anderson Gallery for five days hung outside of the building. Now, Browder’s piece has a permanent home, set to feature in the exhibit until January.

“I wanted to let people come together and try and fail together,” she said. “There is a culture in art that says, ‘Don’t touch, just look.’ I wanted to try and break the norms of art – to make it very hands on.”

Browder said one of the students from a local high school actually came to the opening of the exhibit to see the work in action.

“The best part of this is seeing people from sewing day come back,” Browner said. “The project will always be site-specific – the fabric was donated from Buffalo, it was made by the Buffalo community.”

The exhibit was open to all, UB students and locals alike.

Barbara Rohrer, a former art teacher from Tonawanda, said the theme of color was what really piqued her curiosity.

“The different fiber pieces, strong color and textual qualities of the exhibit really caught my eye,” she said. “I really appreciate the fact that the university opens it up the community.”

The Splitting Light exhibition will be open at UB’s Art Gallery at the CFA from Sept. 24 to Jan. 10.

Brian Windschitl is the senior arts editor and can be reached at brian.windschitl@ubspectrum.com. Follow him on Twitter at @_brnwnd.