By Lucy Lazarony
The art in Looking Glass intrigues and invites. You’ll find yourself wondering just how an artist created a piece. And you’ll see your reflection peering back as you take a closer look.
Melanie Johanson, curator of the Cornell Art Museum, says Looking Glass is the most interactive of all the shows she’s curated. She calls it “immersive.” Viewers of the exhibit will have numerous opportunities to see themselves in the art.
Some works in Looking Glass are quiet and contemplative. Miya Ando’s series of works on paper called “gekko” or moonlight capture reflected light. Her sculptures are created with silver nitrate.
“The room is really, really, really peaceful and serene,” Johanson says of the first floor room containing Ando’s work. “I would encourage spending more time in the room.”
Other works are bold statements.
Jeremy Penn’s series of large, text-based pieces merge gold aluminum with vintage erotica. Among the words highlighted in his work are “PARADISE,” “GODDESS,” “ DESIRE,” and “INDULGE.” A closer look of each word reveals your own reflection.
“His work is meant to reflect the viewer, to see yourself and see what’s underneath the words themselves,” Johanson says.
Hanging in the museum’s atrium is a large sculpture from Lee Borthwick made of willow branches and mirrored pieces. Borthwick made the piece specifically for Looking Glass.
“It’s perfect. I couldn’t ask for anything better to hang in that space,” Johanson says.
The willow branches come from the yard of Borthwick’s parents. “It is very significant to her life and sentimental,” Johanson says of the piece.
Ryan Everston has two sculptural typography pieces created using mirror on plywood. One says “In Your Eyes.” The other “Endless” was made specifically for Looking Glass.
Three artists, Peter Gronquist, Guillaume Lachapelle, and Chul Hyun Ahn, contemplate the meaning of infinity in their artwork with the clever use of mirrors and LED lights, creating wonderful illusions.
Sungchul Hong’s “Perceptual Mirror” is created with solar LCD units, mirrors and plexiglass. It lights up and reflects the viewer. The piece is activated by the light entering solar cells. And it works without plugs, electricity or batteries.
“Isn’t that one amazing? It looks like it’s moving,” Johanson says. “That one’s solar-powered.”
Photographer Elle Schorr explores reflections in photographs of store windows and mannequins in Miami and New York. “Her work fit right in perfectly,” Johanson says.
The artwork of Chris Wood manipulates and reflects light through the use of dichroic (two-color) glass into splendid creations. “Even without light, those pieces look amazing,” Johanson says. “You put light on them and they blow you away.”
And Graeme Messer has six pieces with vintage mirrors with messages such as “How did this happen?” “Perhaps this is what success looks like” and “One day you’ll be mine.”
Messer says the aim of these pieces is “to create a series of encounters where the viewer is both ‘actor’ and ‘audience’ at the same time.” They also add levity to the collection and Johanson agrees.
“The phrases he uses are funny and quirky,” Johanson says. “Art can be fun. It doesn’t have to be this scholarly experience.”
In the same room as Messer’s mirrors, there’s a walk-through prism created by Leah Brown and Peter Symons. “People love it,” Johanson says. “And walking through it gives you a different view of artwork.”
Also in the room, Daniel Rozin captures the viewers’ movements in real time in his two pieces using custom software, a computer and video camera and screen. There are also Lachapelle’s pieces contemplating infinity nearby. It’s a busy room.
And just one of the many reasons Johanson encourages visitors to take a second look at Looking Glass. There’s a lot to see and a lot of art to interact with.
“When you interact with it, it becomes a completely different experience,” Johanson says. “We want to encourage people to take pictures and post them and tag us. We love to repost them.”
In addition to Looking Glass, one room of the museum is dedicated to Looking Back, which features South Florida artists who have participated in previous shows at the Cornell Art Museum, beginning in 2014 with From the Ordinary to Extraordinary: Paper as Art exhibition to 2017’s Fabricated.
Featured artists include Tina Laporta, Cheryl Maeder, Brenda Zappitell, Jane Manus, Carol Prusa, Vincent Cacace, Steve Blackwood, Magnus Sebastian, Jamie Griffiths, Amy Gross, Reed Dixon, Amanda Johnson, Karla Walter, Troy Simmons, Ron Shaw, Carin Wagner and Ernesto Kunde.
Looking Glass runs through Feb. 25. The Cornell Art Museum is located at 51 N. Swinton Avenue in downtown Delray Beach. The museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday through Saturday and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. General admission is $8 and $5 for seniors and students. The museum is free for children under the age of 12, Old School Square members and veterans. And on Sundays, the museum is free for Florida residents. Visit oldschoolsquare.org for more information.