The ICA: Josiah McEleheny Exhibit

One of the things I love most about Northeastern is its proximity to fine art, including the university’s own Gallery 360 and the Museum of Fine Arts down the street. I have also visited several private art galleries on Newbury Street and viewed works by artists ranging from Boston locals to Salvador Dalí. However, the one art-related experience I’ve had here that stands out the most is my visit to the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA).

On October 12, 2012, Dr. Iacono brought a group of five Scholars to the ICA. As the ICA is situated farther away from any of the museums and galleries I listed above, reaching the museum necessitated taking the T and then walking for almost half an hour in frigid weather. (That is, it was frigid from a Southern Californian’s perspective.) Thankfully, the visit was worth the walk.

At the ICA, we viewed works by Josiah McElheny, Os Gemeos, Cornelia Parker, Tara Donovan, and other artists. I was especially amazed by McElheny’s prowess with glasswork, which can be seen in the first four photos I included below. My favorite piece in the exhibit, and possibly one of my favorite pieces of art I have ever seen, is Study for The Center Is Everywhere. Below is a description of the piece from the ICA website:

“It was Weinberg who suggested the idea for the sculpture, based on the Sloan Digital Sky Survey’s current efforts to chart the whole of the cosmos, one dime-sized portion at time. Powerful telescopes from a New Mexico observatory focus on a specific patch of sky, and physically record the visible objects by perforating holes in a metal plate. One such disc forms the structural basis of Study for The Center Is Everywhere., which abstracts and stylizes actual celestial bodies.”

I love almost all styles of art, but what I admire most about artists — specifically contemporary artists — is their ability to combine science and art to produce something beautiful. In this particular sculpture, the crystals represent stars and galaxies, and the light bulbs signify quasars. As I paced around the seven-foot sculpture, I was mesmerized by the way light reflected off of the crystals’ facets, creating a multitude of colors that contrasted well with the duller brass rods. Although the placement of the crystals and lights appears haphazard, they are purposefully and meticulously organized into a scientifically accurate as well as visually pleasing arrangement. Taken at face value without prior knowledge of the artist’s intent, the sculpture would still be beautiful; however, learning about the piece and realizing its scientific basis add a whole new dimension to its aesthetic value.

“Nature is an infinite sphere, whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.”  – Blaise Pascal


 by Jasmine Fu, Pharmacy, University Scholar from Irvine, California