‘Science as Muse: Eight Artistic Riffs on Science and Technology,” on view at the Montgomery Center for the Arts through Sunday, February 4, boasts two unusual elements. The exhibit not only brings together New Jersey and New York artists who have been heavily influenced by scientific knowledge and innovation throughout their careers, but is also serving as a laboratory to explore new ways of experiencing art. Printed instructions encourage visitors to try self-directed, unobtrusive, centering, and sensory awareness exercises (some work specific and others not) designed to offer a fuller, deeper connection with the works on display.
According to a press statement, “the idea — drawn from the arts, psychology, and contemplative practices — is to drop habitual ways of seeing and see things afresh: as viewers bring more of themselves to the art, more of the art is revealed. A feedback loop is created that evokes further discovery and appreciation.”
On Saturday, January 27, Alan Goldsmith, one of the featured artists, will present a workshop on these “new ways of experiencing art,” and visitors on any day can take advantage of the suggestions in a print-out provided at the gallery.
“Science as Muse” features the following artists and their work: Dahlia Elsayed’s cartography-like paintings of internal states and physical dislocation; Jonathan Feldschuh’s large-canvas representations of microscopic and stellar phenomena; Susan Kaprov’s luminous collection of bio-engineered fruits and vegetables; Patricia Lay’s two- and three-dimensional studies of androgynous, cyborg-like beings; Mary Leck’s graphic photographs of ice structures; Sharon Libes’ experiments in color theory and perceptual psychology; Susan Munoz’s hematology-based abstractions; and Barbara Osterman’s explorations in cosmic theory.
Here are just a few suggestions of the “Opening to Art” exercises:
Walk around inside the gallery keeping the art in your peripheral vision but without focusing on any particular work. Notice your thoughts, your breathing, and any sounds. Let your feet lead you in whatever direction they want to go, and stop to examine anything tha draws your attention.
Imagine you are in the Escher-like building pictured in Sharon Libes’ “Ramped,” and have to get from one side of it to the other. Have some fun as you try to navigate the maze of stairs and ramps and hidden passageways.
Have some fun with Mary Leck’s photographs by playing around with scale and viewpoint. Are you looking up or down, and what else could you be looking at besides ice? How does knowing what the subject is affect your appreciation of the images?
Find a piece that is among those you like least in the show. Look at it for a few moments and try to discover any elements in it that you can relate to your own life. Reflect on the meaning and impact of those elements on you.
The gallery also recommends a new blog devoted to technology and the arts, http://techarts.wordpress.com, which features podcast interviews with four of the participating artists, Sally Davidson, Alan Goldsmith, Susan Kaprov. and Patricia Lay.
Opening to Art, Saturday, January 27, 2 to 4 p.m., Montgomery Center for the Arts, 124 Montgomery Road, Skillman. Workshop presented by Alan Goldsmith in conjunction with “Science as Muse,” an exhibition featuring eight artists whose work is inspired or informed by scientific knowledge and innovation. Register. Free. www.montgomerycenterforthearts.org or 609-921-3272.
Gallery hours: Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 3:00 pm; Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m.