Exhibit offers unique viewpoint


A new school year has begun, and with it a new presentation at the DeVos Art Museum titled “On the Point of Crystal Time,” an exhibit by Cincinnati artists Denise Burge and Lisa Siders.

The exhibition shows a point of view given through mirror imagery and how it is expressed both in man-made and natural settings. Commonly found symbols in the show include crystals, mirrors, animal bones and various discarded objects, such as high heels and empty thread spools. Key points in the exhibit include not only mirror images, but also opposing forces in an image, such as puritan vs. disco, nature vs. civilization and black vs. white.

Interest has been spreading throughout campus since its opening Aug. 22, with recent class tours and word-of-mouth helping to draw viewers. NMU senior Heather Day came after hearing about the show through one of her professors.

“It relates to my social structures class, particularly because we’re talking about site-specific art and installation art,” Day said.

Specific and installation art are both forms that use the space given as part of the exhibit they create. In site-specific art, the surrounding walls or environmental factors are used to compliment the show, and sometimes the site is picked because it will compliment the exhibit. Installation art is when multiple media types are included to form a different experience after being in the exhibit.

The exhibit uses sound bites, video loops and collages to help the viewer fully experience the show, and it even uses one of the large white walls in DeVos as the site of a primarily black linear collage.

One example of the varying media is the animalistic sound bite playing in the background, which is actually a loop from a Donna Summers disco song. The disco ball images prevalent throughout the exhibition not only show the influence of the time, but also once again displays the mirrors.

Director and Curator Melissa Matuscak helped to reveal one of the more obscure references to disco by pointing out that a sculpture made in a pile of salt could be linked as a reference to cocaine — one way of getting back to the primal feeling that the disco age strived for. The disco imagery is opposed by images of dancing women in puritan clothing. Other more puritan roots include the use of knitted shapes that are used throughout the show.

“[The two artists] both have quilting and textile backgrounds they learned from their parents, and patching a quilt is often a similar result to piecing together a collage but with a very different approach,” Matuscak said.

A dark linear collage runs along the white wall of the exhibit decorated with these knitted patterns, and on the floor across the way a white line mimics the collage style on the ground. The black line displays the human world with traces of nature and mirrors, and the white line focuses on nature and has traces of human life in it, such as an abandoned clutch purse filled with wishbones lying along the same trail as the body of a dead bird.

“Once you become aware of the themes and all the different elements, they kind of start popping out at you,” Matuscak said.

In one particular part of the exhibit, an acrylic mirror is covered with words, and the stenciled outline is copied as an imprint on the opposite wall in a rock salt powder. This is repeated again with the circle of words being made of salt crystals, and then opposed with a wall imprint done in charcoal. The words displayed on the circle, Metuscak explained, are used by the artists as a mantra for this piece, relating to nature and the differing emotions and reactions it can invoke.

When asked what she hopes viewers will come away with after viewing this exhibit, Matuscak said she hopes people will get a different interpretation of nature.

The exhibition is free and runs through Sept. 28.