Tree roots, mandalas, planets and more create a dreamscape in a site-specific installation.
An immersive environment created on location by installation art pioneer Judy Pfaff is on view through Saturday, April 16 in Lafayette College’s Grossman Gallery in the Williams Visual Arts Building, 243 North Third St. in Easton, Pa.
A public lecture by Pfaff will be given at 4:10 p.m. on Tuesday, March 15 in room 108 of the Williams Center for the Arts, 317 Hamilton St. Pfaff will be in residence at Lafayette March 14-16, giving talks to and working with students on campus.
The exhibition and March 15 artist’s talk are free and open to the public.
Pfaff, selected as the 2016 Grossman Artist-in-Residence at Lafayette for her innovative installations made from steel, fiberglass, plaster, recycled industrial materials, and natural elements, is a polymath with interests in physics, botany, geology, zoology, astronomy, Eastern and Western religions, and world culture. Her work reflects a global viewpoint and desire to broaden the art experience.
Each Pfaff installation is unique—a one-time physical and intellectual experience. In this work, mapping is a touchstone. Circles of ages, calendars, and mandalas are featured. “I was creating whole worlds, planets, islands, and landscapes that suggest a dream. The viewer is led through space.”
The opening form for Somewhere After, at the right of the entrance, is based on the roots of a tree that fell in the artist’s yard, forming a circle. “As with my other works, I kept adding until I could ‘see’ the piece. I understood it only after it was finished. It is like being possessed; something takes over.”
“Every work expresses my understanding at a different age in my life. Here, I am stepping back and taking a distant view.”
The work expresses imagery of the cosmos including circular configurations like planetary orbits, exploding forms that resemble star nurseries and nebula, the mandalas as astronomical maps, and metal spherical counterweights are suspended like planets but also resembling Foucault’s pendulum. For Pfaff, the universe is both breathtaking in concept and chaotic in specific events.
Pfaff creates works marked by formal complexity, a variety of materials, and a breadth of references including the natural environment, science, and global art. Her creations often span from floor to wall to ceiling, forming a matrix of metal, foam resin, and found materials through which visitors walk and observe from all angles.
The exhibition, which opened Feb. 19, was created specifically for the Richard A. and Rissa W. Grossman Gallery. It will remain on view through spring semester.
Born in London, Pfaff received a BFA from Washington University-St. Louis, and an MFA from Yale University. Her numerous awards include the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, MacArthur Award, and recently the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Sculpture Center. Her work is held in the permanent collections of Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Detroit Institute of Arts, among others.
Lafayette is located in Easton, Pennsylvania, on the scenic Delaware River, 72 miles from New York City, and 60 miles from Philadelphia. For more information and gallery hours, visit the art galleries website, galleries.lafayette.edu.
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All lectures and exhibitions are free and open to the public. They are sponsored by Lafayette Art Galleries and the College’s Department of Art.
Lafayette College Art Galleries and EPI receive state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.
The Grossman Artist-in-Residence was established by Richard A Grossman ’64 and Rissa W. Grossman to provide opportunities for intensive interactions between students and major 21st century artists.
Photo: © Judy Pfaff, Somewhere After, 2016, mixed media, detail. Higher resolution photos are available, https://flic.kr/s/aHskuYSwuN
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