In East Boston, we cannot escape our connection to the water. Even surrounded by buildings, a glance in one direction or another leads you directly to the harbor. Entering the ClipArt Gallery at the newly developed Clippership Wharf, the smell of the ocean on the wind joins you, and panoramic windows offer glimpses of the harbor. Through “Water: Medium & Mirror,” an eclectic and fascinating collection of works by New England artists, curator Stephanie Arnett of the Atlantic Works Gallery shows that “Water is essential to all known life.”
A stark grouping of three cyanotype works by Connie Lowell has you striding across the gallery to take a closer look. Lowell is fascinated by cyanobacteria, the 3.5-billion-year-old “architects” of stromatolites, mounds and columns formed by the bacteria’s natural pursuance of light. In her pieces “4 Billion B.C.E.,” “1 Billion B .C.C.” and “2.5 Billion B .C.E.,” f lowing shapes in deep blue float against a white background. Stacks of smaller circles of rough paper mimic the climb of the stromatolites, moving closer and closer to the sun. Lowell’s marriage of scientific processes and artistic practices is thought-provoking and powerful. The use of the cyanotype process, water, paper, sea sponges, light and sand to create these striking pieces is a nod to the dependence of the artist on nature to create. At the nucleus of each form is an image of the cyanobacteria itself, prompting viewers to think of their own relationships to the microscopic world of 3.5 billion years ago.