On Wednesday, Sept. 12, UR’s Hartnett Gallery opened its first exhibition of the fall season. Jonathan VanDyke’s exhibit, titled “What It Feels Like,” explores the relationship between “object, space and body.”

Upon walking into the gallery, one will find a seemingly disarrayed collection of both metal and wooden everyday objects surrounded by walls of white Tyvek sheeting.

The exhibition opened with a performance by a number of students who were choreographed by VanDyke. The performers emerged from the crowd throughout the opening and enacted the exhibit’s installation. Ripping apart crates and sculptures and revealing painted surfaces brought more meaning to the space and created an exciting atmosphere. The performers essentially recreated the feeling of the exhibit through rearrangement and brought life to a seemingly simple exhibit.

“I want to make work that embodies both form and formlessness, that is both pregnant and barren, that feels disconcerting and yet beautiful, that shows off while also turning away,” VanDyke said in a recent press release. “Each work desires a state of teetering balance? a sense of things in a state of becoming.”

An installation artist, VanDyke most commonly works from his studio in Brooklyn, N.Y. He has shown his works at a variety of museums in New York and at a great deal of universities as well.

His insight for the exhibit at UR’s Hartnett Gallery came from the gallery’s space itself. Drawing inspiration from I.M. Pei’s design of Wilson Commons, VanDyke fell in love with both the intricacy and unusual nature of the space. The environment surrounding the gallery provided a seemingly perfect vibe for his constructions and sculptural installations.

“I studied the space, a triangular-shaped room within a large building designed by I.M. Pei,” VanDyke was quoted saying on his online blog. “The space has the sort of quirks that I’m attracted to – a semi-circular balcony, a low ceiling on one end that rises up to 22′ on the other.”

VanDyke works with both performative and large-scale installations that draw inspiration from some of the most ordinary of objects.

A chain hangs from the ceiling. Coffee cups, paper clips and cardboard boxes are strewn throughout, and some of the most bizarre of materials – buckets, crates, rubber, plaster – are incorporated as well.

VanDyke demonstrates a clear liking for a dripping technique where paints drip off of wooden surfaces and onto the floor. The artist creates an element of visual excitement and leaves a great deal of room for interpretation.

He manipulates the most everyday objects into works of art that together can create a new and unusual effect. What had been an apparently confusing room of objects that we are used to seeing in our everyday life became a space of meaning and purpose. Playing with the commonplace gave VanDyke a significant amount of room to experiment with viewers minds and understanding.

“What It Feels Like” will be on display at the Hartnett Gallery until Oct. 5. On Oct. 3, the gallery will be hosting an artist discussion at 4 p.m.

Lewis is a member of the class of 2008.



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