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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Hanging installations mirror natural forms

<lass="s5"> When Laurel Bradley, curator for the Perlman Teaching Museum in the Weitzlooked for inspiration for the museum’s spring art exhibit, she merely had to look up. The museum’s main space, Braucher Gallery, is equipped with 24-foot high ceilings and a system of adjustable grids, which led to the inception of Swing Low, a magnificent new exhibition that brings together four artists’ work to create installations that hang from the ceiling.

The artists—Alison Hiltner, HOTTEA, Rebecca Hutchinson, and Elizabeth Simonson, all have very different pieces, but they play off each other seamlessly, creating an electrifying energy in the gallery. Each artist draws inspiration from nature, which manifests in an impressive variety of ways. For example, Alison Hiltner’s works are often futuristic and based off of scientific phenomena, such as “Neuromorphic Behaviors” a three-dimensional installation designed to reflect neuron patterns, while Elizabeth Simonson works with nature’s natural repetitions and flaws to create her complex pieces, such as folds in tape in her 2002 Stampede. Simonson’s piece for Swing Low is a collection of tiny units, made from beads and wire. Says Simonson, “I’m really creating pieces that are life forms, with a beginning, middle and end.” The impossibly intricate beaded organisms come together to form an ethereal colony in the middle of the gallery. Hiltner’s work, Survival Tactics, is a mixed media installation that echoes root systems in nature. The tendrils that hang down from the parent forms are programmed to interact with the space around them, and dance according to vibrations in the gallery. At the opening, delighted children danced among the roots as Hiltner showed them her work.

 Minneapolis-based HOTTEA, otherwise known as Eric Rieger, is an installation artist who, inspired by his grandmother, works primarily with yarn. His piece, The Collector, drew from his background in graphic design and the ubiquitous color picker for inspiration. Around 5700 individual pieces of yarn were tied to the grid with tweezers, then individually released and cut to length. This was my favorite piece in the gallery, as it was nearly impossible to resist the urge to run through the yarn and let the colors rain down on my head.

 Rebecca Hutchinson, from Massachusetts, is the only artist on display who isn’t based in the Twin Cities. She uses handmade paper and clay to create her beautiful installations, which she always builds on-site. She creates installations that reflect nature’s complex works, and each piece is made from hundreds of tiny components. During her talk at the gallery opening, Hutchinson spoke of how her work connects to site, as well as survival. Her piece is organic, and the components flow into each other seamlessly. She “weaves” her art from the bottom up, dipping each piece individually into a methylcellulose adhesive before attaching it to the larger body.

 Swing Low is a feat of collaboration, and Bradley has succeeded in curating an exhibit that both utilizes the Perlman’s impressive space and balances four completely different artists’ visions. I highly recommend everyone to see it, now through May third in the Braucher gallery.


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