You don’t typically expect to find either in an art exhibition, but both are main components in Through the Lens, the newest show at the Hunterdon Art Museum. The exhibition invites visitors to explore the artistic possibilities in the infinite and the infinitesimal.
Through the Lens opens Sunday, Sept. 27 with a reception from 2 to 4 p.m. that everyone is welcome to attend. The show runs until Jan. 3, 2016. The exhibition highlights the work of artists Lorrie Fredette and Gianluca Bianchino and features site-specific installations inspired by technology and rooted in nature and scientific discovery.
Bianchino’s work investigates physics, particularly as it applies to astronomy, while Fredette is inspired by cellular forms and investigations into viruses and the diseases they cause. Both artists utilize the lens – the microscope or telescope – to reveal the natural world in ways that aren’t visible to the naked eye.
The show is comprised primarily of two large installations that allow a fair amount of interplay between the artists, the art and the gallery space. “There’s this pervading idea of movement and exploration weaving in and out of this exhibition, both physically as well as metaphorically,” said Jeanne Brasile, who is the director of the Walsh Gallery at Seton Hall University and is curating this show.
Fredette has been creating a series of new shapes and sizes of wax orbs that will wind around and reside in the various architectural idiosyncrasies of the Museum’s space. “Gianluca has made 10 new ‘portals’ that contain viewing lenses through which visitors are transported to another layer of regressive space,” Brasile said.
Brasile said the show is enhanced by holding it at a site that served for more than a century as a grist mill before being converted into a museum. “The eccentric and historic architecture is one of the most exciting aspects of the show for us,” Brasile said. “The building and the residue of its past can activate the art in a completely different way, than a white cube space.
“If you think about it, mills were part of the whole industrial revolution and were cutting-edge technology back in the day. Gianluca and Lorrie’s interest in science and technology reflects the contemporary impulse in that direction,” Brasile added.
The idea to pair the two artists’ work together initially arose from a group show, titled Linear Thinking, which appeared a few years ago at Seton Hall University. As she walked the length of the gallery multiple times each day, Brasile would recall images of Fredette’s and Bianchino’s work being visually superimposed.
“I realized that both artists were investigating similar things, but from opposite directions,” Brasile noted. “Gianluca is assembling cosmic expanses on a miniscule scale, and Lorrie is compiling masses of cellular forms magnified tens of thousands of times. I also like the harmony of their approaches: They build aggregates of forms in a semi-intuitive fashion as a means to explore something we cannot know without science and technology. They are both explorers.”
Image credit: Gianluca Bianchino, Temporary Bodies (Details) 1 and 2, 2012, Mixed media sculpture, Dimensions variable.