Hyde Park Art Cener
May 3rd – August 23rd, 2015
The exhibition, Cosmosis at the Hyde Park Art Center presents work that explores the intersection of the cosmos and artistic production. This is most successful in pieces by Erin Washington and Carrie Gundersdorf. The first piece you encounter in the exhibition is Washington’s Shapes of an Expanding Universe; it is a small, intimate scaled canvas covered in thick layers of black acrylic paint. Washington’s piece speaks to labor and temporarily. Delicate chalk marks resembling a combination of arrows and 0’s indicate language, knowledge, or some kind of communication. The markings are tentative, built by layers of erasure and writing. Her material choices and performative mark-making clearly communicate her intent to question permanence and transitions to ephemera. As a viewer I asked myself several questions related to these ideas: over what period of time did the piece take to create? How long would the chalk markings stay perceivable on the surface? And an unanswered question: What are these markings trying to communicate? The markings could be based on some sort of mathematical symbolism, or perhaps positioning documentation of a cosmo related body like a planet or shuttle. Whatever the actual answer, this question serves as a place for the viewer’s imagination to engage with the work. The exhibition catalogue centers the work on the role of the cosmos and our understanding of the universe and our place therein. Washington’s piece signifies the very human struggle to make sense of things and decipher communication whether human, technological, or other. Another pleasurable aesthetic intersection is Carrie Gundersdorf’s False color image of density waves in Saturn’s A ring. With marks of color and handwriting scribbled around the edges, Gundersdorf’s displays a coloring outside the box attitude. Science and astronomy, often attended to with mathematical precision are let loose to play in her colorful depiction of density waves. The viewer is kept close by the micro markings, while at the same time pushed backward to take a macro view of the bending lines and the composition as a whole. What worked well in both Washington’s and Gundersdorf’s work is the way they make the viewer feel small compared to the questions posed and subject matter presented- a position that fits well with ideas around the cosmos.