ON & ON: ARTS WITHOUT END & COLOR-ISM
BEARD & WEIL GALLERIES
26 EAST MAIN STREET
JANUARY 24 THROUGH FEBRUARY 23
by Suzanne Volmer
The professional hats worn by Elizabeth Keithline include artist, public art consultant, critic, writer and teacher. This past autumn, she was appointed as interim director and curator of the Beard and Weil Galleries at Wheaton College, and she opens 2018 with “On & On: Arts Without End” and “Color-ism.”
The galleries at Wheaton present consistently outstanding programming, and Keithline delivers in that mold. Speaking with her in advance about “On & On,” she expressed enthusiasm for the show as a power punch to invigorate the senses during winter. Keithline described the exhibition as being “about time as it moves, [and] the ‘electric on’ [or] ‘turned on’ [light bulb effect] — deliberately loopy, pulsing” to stimulate sensory awakening of audiences given the show’s visual range. The artworks included are dizzyingly complex to reductively interactive.
Weil Gallery is cube-like, set inside Wheaton’s Beard Gallery (the outer space enrobes the inner one) and will hold the “Color-ism” aspect of this show, featuring works by the St. Louis husband and wife team WORK/PLAY. Artists Danielle and Kevin McCoy create prints and their statement puns the fine art connotation of “color-ism” by flipping the meaning of this reference to reflect social commentary. Conceptually, their work explores skin color from light to dark, as contemplation of identity and the biases of racial hierarchy. WORK/PLAY’s take on “Color-ism” refers to the social climate in which an event like Ferguson happens, and it treats its content like a public service announcement.
Front and center, audiences entering the Beard Gallery will see wonderfully soupy landscape imagery aerially shot and computer manipulated in videos by Anne Morgan Spalter. Keithline related that Spalter rents helicopters around the world, and while in flight she dangles headfirst while shooting images and video footage. She brings the work back to the studio to edit and manipulate into mind-bending, fresh and fun artworks. The romance of high adventure energy comes across in her work.