By Shelby Otto
The Marlin and Regina Miller Gallery here at KU recently unveiled its latest installation, “HYPOSTYLE,” by this year’s resident artist, John Cunningham. In his work, Cunningham investigates the most basic concepts of architecture and creative output, simply on a larger scale than most other sculptural pieces we typically see in the gallery.
The large size and intensely geometric form of the installation should not deter viewers from interacting and engaging with the piece. Upon first seeing the rather large, architectural beast occupying the gallery, I felt a sense of apprehension and a reluctance to approach it. Forcing myself into the dimly lit space, I found those feelings dissipating as I moved through and around the structure.
A small sign sitting inside the drawn curtains asks visitors to be cautious in moving through the installation, so I suggest dropping your bags and whatever might be occupying your hands in the corner to fully engage with the aqua green fibers, zip ties and metal poles.
As I said above, “HYPOSTYLE” explores the questions surrounding space and form and the interaction between the two. Created on a slant, viewers can move in and around the structure but must be careful to duck as the inner archways progressively get lower until you have no choice but to leave or sit. And it’s okay if you choose to sit.
In speaking with one art student, senior Alexandra Perry, she said, “It reminds me of ‘Bloom Bloom,’” which was an installation from 2017 that used the gallery space in a different way architecturally. Nonetheless, it encouraged viewer interaction and close contemplation.
As a space of contemplation, it is acceptable and encouraged for visitors to come in and sit and enjoy the piece. Some students featured on KU’s @art_kutztown Instagram page have already found themselves journaling underneath the immense structure.
This kind of awareness of form, then, not only heightens one’s sense of the object surrounding them but also makes the viewer aware of their own presence and the space they might occupy here in the gallery and on a day-to-day basis. From that, how the form of the structure and the form of the body come together and, ultimately, stand as separate parts.
Materiality is another important component for Cunningham’s piece, using everyday objects to create this large and strange architectural piece. The intense green of the netting surrounding you draws the eye up, down and around, and as you try to follow the pattern with your eyes, you eventually discover that this great structure is simply being held together with clear, plastic zip ties. In viewing such simple artistic components, visitors are reminded of the aesthetic qualities of everyday objects.
So, while the work itself communicates a multitude of themes, ideas and connotations, viewers are welcome to come enjoy the exhibit either from the outside or from underneath, as long as they are careful.
Information concerning “HYPOSTYLE,” “Bloom Bloom” and other past and upcoming exhibits can be found at http://www3.kutztown.edu/artgallery/.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment