Opening reception for “Momentum” attracts crowds

by Annie Smith | 4/7/15 6:17pm


Studio art exhibit “Momentum” attracts viewers.

by Kate Herrington and Kate Herrington / The Dartmouth

As a crowd of undergraduates, faculty and community members watch, an arctic fox curls its back and turns its head to look directly at its audience. With its white coat popping in sharp contrast to the dry, brown tundra on which it stands, the fox creates a transfixing image — one nearly powerful enough to transport viewers to the Arctic, where studio art professor Christina Seely’s expedition-based work has taken her.

Rather than a frigid and barren landscape, however, the scene for this fox’s antics is a large screen, where it has been projected as part of Seely’s latest exhibition, “Momentum,” currently on view in the Strauss Gallery.

“I love her, her work and the concept of looking at nature,” Noah Smith ’15, an observer on the exhibition’s first day and a studio art major, said. “It’s so cool that she has photographed a place I will probably never see in my own lifetime or with my own eyes.”

“Momentum” — which explores our “contemporary relationship to the planet,” according to the studio art department’s description of the exhibition — includes more than just a video of the fox and other arctic imagery. Filling the Strauss Gallery is a collection of work drawn from two of Seely’s previous projects, “Markers of Time” — which includes photographs captured on expeditions to the Arctic and the tropics — and “Lux,” which the artist worked on from 2005 and 2010. The latter, which consists of large-scale photographs, focuses on the artificial lights of civilization, capturing cities and other industrial centers, while the former — an ongoing project — focuses on our changing relationship with both time and the planet, using a variety of mediums to explore the impact of climate change.

Director of exhibitions and studio art professor Gerald Auten, who helped to prepare the exhibit, said that new faculty members are traditionally offered an exhibition in order to introduce their work to other professors, students and the community at large. Seely, who previously taught at the California College of the Arts, has exhibited her work at the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego and the West Collection, among other venues.

In designing the exhibition, Auten said, the Strauss Gallery was used in favor of the neighboring Jaffe-Friede gallery due to differences in the spaces. Exhibits can be constructed in accordance with the artist’s wishes, Auten said, and in Seely’s case, a divider was added to the Strauss Gallery in order to create a separate space for projections, complete with throw pillows for seating.

“The Jaffe-Friede Gallery is huge, while in the Straus Gallery we can do something manageable,” Auten said.

Ashley Kekona ’18, another visitor to the gallery on its opening day yesterday, said that she was particularly drawn to the exhibit’s design.

“I like how simple the layout is and how big the photos are,” she said. “I’m really drawn to them, and the set up for the video is very nice.”

Among the exhibition’s photographs, a picture of walruses lounging on a piece of sea ice particularly highlights the connection between “Markers of Time” and climate change. According to the artist, who describes the photo — part of a diptych — on her website, the ice on which the walruses are resting is shrinking due to the impacts of climate change.

“Momentum,” which opened with a reception yesterday, is on view until May 3. An artist event for the exhibit, entitled “Draw of Darkness,” will be held on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. in the Hood Auditorium.