THIS ESSAY HAS BEEN PUBLISHED IN THE DECEMBER 2015 ISSUE OF ACES MAGAZINE
On view in the Islip Art Museum is a selection of artists who incorporate scientific fundamentals into their artistic process. The exhibition, Compendium, was curated by Lorrie Fredette and Beth Giacummo. The exhibition features the artwork of Brandon Ballengée, Gianluca Bianchino, Julia Buntaine, Beverly Fishman, Michelle Frick, Phil Hastings, Jeanne Heifetz, Mark Nystrom, Taney Roniger, Travis LeRoy Southworth, Laura Splan, Werner Sun, and Elaine Whittaker.
Ballengée’s imposing C-prints mounted on aluminum magnifies the deformed anatomy of genetically modified organisms. One work on view, It turns and flies…, places a underdeveloped bird in the center of the composition, in the fetal position. The creature’s vertebrate and bones are highlighted by a deep, cool blue that stunningly contrasts against the off-white, reflective surface of the piece. Across from Ballengée’s work are four digital videos taken from Phil Hastings’ Morphology Series. These works feature videos of manipulated digitally based organisms that swell, and move across the video screen, which are placed in four, hand crafted, reliquary-like boxes. Sharing the exhibition space with these two artists is Beverly Fishman whose work, Pillbox, features six colorful larger-than-life glass capsules that commentate on the allure of pharmaceuticals.
In the second gallery of the Islip Art Museum, one will find an installation by Laura Splan. Collectively titled Host, the installation features works of porcelain and three-dimensionally printed materials, painted in blood, that represents stereotypical objects found in suburban homes. Across the room, on a steel medical cart, Michelle Frick places a group of hand-made, cast and painted, syringe canary birds. The medical cart displaying the syringe birds, some of which are encased in glass specimen jars, is situated beneath three screen prints, which reads as x-rays of a heart. The gallery also features several adhesive vinyl prints by the artist Travis LeRoy Southworth. In his work, entitled Detouched, the artist draws inspiration from the manipulated imagery found in advertising. He abstracts images of various facial imperfections, such as wrinkles, moles, and other blemishes, and presents them across a series of prints of various sizes.
Another gallery features a site-specific installation from the artist Gianluca Bianchino entitled Space Junk #2. Here, the artist makes reference to the cosmos through the metal ribbings of parasols, light, and shadows that are both casted and drawn onto the walls.
Hanging in the main hall of the museum is a series of works on hand-made paper by Jeanne Heifetz. The artist’s biomorphic forms are created using Plateau’s Law, which governs the growth and development of forms found in nature. Accompanying Heifetz’s work are Mark Nystrom’s digital drawings that allows the viewer to actually see wind as it was processed through collected data. Situated between Heifetz and Nystrom’s works are Taney Roniger’s puncture drawings, taken from her Inscape Series. The works feature simple bifurcated patterns that are continuously repeated and overlaid atop one another as graphite powder is rubbed over the holes, creating monochromatic works that warrants close observation.
As written by Lisbeth Murray in her essay that accompanies the exhibition, the artist Julia Buntaine visually represents eye movement data originally collected by Russia psychologist Alfred L. Yarbus as his participates observed a painting by the Realist Ilya Repin in her work Trace Movements. Across from Buntaine’s drawings are two computer generated fractal images by Werner Sun. Both, Continental Drift I and Continental Drift II, disregard traditional two-dimensional works, as pyramidal shapes rise above the surfaces of the works, like mountains in a landscape.
The final artist of the exhibition, Elaine Whittaker, uses infectious diseases as the subject matter in four works taken from her Screened For series. The works feature four digital prints of the artist wearing a surgical mask with a different disease designated by a specific color that appears on the mask and in the corresponding Petri dish which is hung beneath each print. For the exhibition, the curators wished to examine Malaria, Tuberculosis, SARS, and West Nile Virus.
Compendium was curated by Lorrie Freddette and Beth Giacummo, and features a group of artists who incorporate their scientific interests into their artwork. The exhibition runs in conjunction with the Museum Shop exhibition Alternative Historic Photography Experiments curated by Jessica McAvoy. Both exhibitions are now on view at the Islip Art Museum until December 27, 2015. A closing reception will be held on December 13, from 1 – 4 PM.
Museum Curatorial & Exhibitions Assistant/Jr. Curator
Murray, Lisbeth, Compendium, East Islip, NY: Islip Art Museum, 2015, Print.
Andrei Budescu, Ph.D, and Islip Art Museum