February 05, 2010

Kitty Kraus / Matrix 158

Popped over to the Wadsworth Atheneum last night for the relaunch of the Matrix contemporary arts program. Full disclosure - the new Curator of Contemporary Art, Patricia Hickson, is an old friend (or rather, my sister's best bud in high school, she was a year behind me) and life has planted us both in Hartford. So I was there partly for the art, partly to support a friend, and partly to get out and about. The evening was a success on all counts!

Loved the installation. You can read a more refined synopsis of the artist's work here, although I'm trying to reflect my reaction without reading too much. I'll dig into others interpretations later....I was too busy schmoozing to catch the artist's talks, sadly.

My initial reaction was that Ms. Kraus is creating the same sorts of geometries and effects as Frank Lloyd Wright - except what he does with paint or metal, she is doing with light. I found myself stopping at each lightbox and noting how each cast a different pattern or effect on the space - and wondering if there were slots or cut-outs on the hidden face. I'm guessing not; that the differences were related to the orientation of the light brick; the distance from the walls, and perhaps subtle differences in the width of the exposed glass and the angled assembly of the individual panes of glass.

Eventually, I stopped at an individual brick and simply gazed into the light. Several of the figures created a 3D effect - as if I were gazing down the length of an unfinished room or hallway, looking at rafters or the supports of a suspended ceiling.

And finally, this morning, a more spiritual interpretation. Much like a quest for the divine - we are often blocked form gazing directly at the truth, but instead can only catch slivers of light, reflections, second and third hand evidence of the brilliant light that illuminates reality. This entire reality is the same sort of projection as Ms. Kraus's light installations - we can not see within the source of the light, but it leaks out of the cracks and the projections are both beautiful and draw us in to seek more.

The Matrix gallery space is an interesting space - long and tunnel-like with one entrance closed. In some ways it evokes other tunnel-like spaces filled with light (dare I mention the O'Hare International tunnel between terminals B and C?). My experience of the art was only slightly marred by a somewhat gruff Atheneum guard whose admonishments to "stick to the center of the room, do not touch anything, including the bench" felt a little stern and boomy in the space which otherwise might have conjured a cathedral-like silence. Perhaps a visit on another day, without the bustle of an opening and a First Thursday event is in order.

I'm a newcomer to the Atheneum's social circle - but it's feeling more comfortable, and I'm overdue for an afternoon of more leisurely browsing and exploration.

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