Light exhibition brings art to new dimension in Queens

Photo courtesy of The Plaxall Gallery


Let there be light!

Several fearless New York area artists — their collective creative juices flowing — have elevated art to another dimension and pushed their limits of creativity far beyond what some would describe as conventional comfort zones. These highly imaginative makers have been busy conjuring up eye-catching installations that experiment with light as a material and medium.

So, if you’re feeling on edge, take a breather and experience their wondrous, mood-boosting works, on view now through Dec. 27, 2020, at the HoloCenter’s current exhibition, “EDGE OF LIGHT,” at The Plaxall Gallery in Long Island City. Virtual viewing will remain online beyond that date.

Inspiring and educating with workshops that combine art, science and technology, the HoloCenter presents exhibitions of art holograms, light art and spatial media. Their experimental media residencies and pulse laser holography programs support artistic experimentation and production.

Rachel Guardiola, VEGA Project Bio-MYNE, 2020. Video installation performance for the HoloCenter exhibition EDGE OF LIGHT, curated by Jonathan Sims, The Plaxall Gallery, LIC, NY

“When we listed the open call, my hope was to exhibit a variety of methods, mediums and materials, but as the show progressed I began to see different themes emerge,” said curator Jonathan Sims, a Queens-based visual artist whose practice uses light and geometry to reveal emotional and spiritual truths about humanity.

“The mediums vary widely,” he continued. “There are numerous digital projections and mapping, but also neon, stereoscopic sculpture, glowing strontium aluminate pigments, kinetic lumia sculpture and many different manipulations of these technologies.”

All illumination will emanate from the art forms within a dark gallery.

“EDGE OF LIGHT” commissioned 12 installations (sculptural projections have been created onsite) that make use of a dark space gallery in which traditional forms of gallery lighting are switched off. What is revealed is an unexpected, self-illuminating exhibition that highlights the unique individual visions of artists who work with light as a primary element of their practice. The exhibit showcases the diversity of technologies, concepts and narratives being used in contemporary art today.

Jess Holz, Borderlands, 2020. Installation with laser cut Fresnel lenses and video of the artist’s skin being examined under the scanning electron microscope. HoloCenter exhibition EDGE OF LIGHT, curated by Jonathan Sims, The Plaxall Gallery, LIC, NY

In the artists’ must-see-to-believe masterpieces, light is deconstructed, shaped and streamed. They combine digital and optical manipulation with precision-made and found objects.

In his installation titled “BORDERLANDS,” Holz examines his own skin under the scanning electron microscope. In his artist statement, he explains the meaning behind his work: “My skin is my boundary, and through light and distortion I am blending these images with the nonhuman insect eye. The skin is barely recognizable in the resulting kaleidoscopic display, but the movement and fluctuations of light are still there.”

Sims believes that working in light provides artists with a special advantage.

“They can synthesize the historically mature language of the visual arts using fresh mediums that are intrinsically able to express the most present time,” Sims told QNS. “It is innate for artists to try to find the edges of these mediums and to distort and skew our expectations of what they can accomplish, often by adding layers of material between the image and our optic nerve. This could take the form layers of light itself (Ed Bear), of anaglyph red-blue gels that explore the sculptural dimensionality of shadows (Blinn & Lambert), or suspended magnifying lenses that relay and bend rays of light (Jess Holz). It could also be in the subtle video feedback of a camera catching the light from a digital projection (Rita Jimenez), or the kinetic layering of surfaces that both reflect and transmit photons into new forms (Nooshin Rostami).”

Emma Hendry, Forest Fire, 2020. Installation of hand-bent neon trees at the HoloCenter exhibition EDGE OF LIGHT, curated by Jonathan Sims, The Plaxall Gallery, LIC, NY

Sims, who currently maintains a studio space as a long-term resident at Flux Factory in Long Island City, has mostly exhibited in New York City, but began his arts career in San Antonio, Texas, as a painter. He transitioned into digital projection installation, but his work began to center more on the nature of light itself.

“EDGE OF LIGHT” is Sims’ third and largest curatorial endeavor, and the second to focus on artists working in light.

“Light can also be a medium that amplifies our attention and enhances the message,” he explained. “It can newly engage ecological or political messages that are hyper local (Emily Andersen and Kamari Carter & Julian Day), or use subtle light and imagery to create a scope wide enough to address the extreme scale of global environmental issues (Shohei Katayama). Light can create stunning illusions (Evan Voelbel), convey the glowing sculptural beauty of the natural world (Emma Hendry), or be a channel that can compress huge distances into sudden intimacies (Rachel Guardiola).”

Despite New York’s ongoing challenges, local creatives and makers have never given up or stopped creating. And their audiences are surely grateful for that!

Nooshin Rostami, Zamân, 2020. Installation with sculptural elements and light at the HoloCenter exhibition EDGE OF LIGHT, curated by Jonathan Sims, The Plaxall Gallery, LIC, NY

“I feel very lucky to be a part of this show, and proud in helping create a forum for these remarkable artists,” Sims shared. “Right now, it might be a little too easy, and far too soon, to build an allegory of light emerging from darkness – but it is never the wrong moment to look for hope.”

There is light at the end of the tunnel.

On Saturday, Dec. 12, at 2:30 p.m., join Sims for a 3-D tour of the exhibition at The Plaxall Gallery. The 3-D imagery by Carlton Bright captures the light art installations by Emily Andersen, Ed Bear, Blinn and Lambert, Julian Day and Kamari Carter, Rachel Guardiola, Emma Hendry, Jess Holz, Rita Jimenez, Shohei Katayama, Nooshin Rostami and Evan Voelbel: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84929036314  [Zoom meeting ID: 849 2903 6314].

On Dec. 19, at 2:30 p.m., you can learn about stereoscopic art, and don’t miss an interview with the artists Blinn & Lambert (Nicholas Steindorf and Kyle Williams) about their installation “NNAATTUURRAA MMOORRTTAA” in the exhibition. Carlton Bright shares 3-D imagery of the work and interviews the artists about their collaboration to experiment with stereography. To view in 3-D you will need anaglyph (red-blue) glasses. They are available at the gallery or by sending your mailing address to 3DNSA@OPTONLINE.NET.

The “EDGE OF LIGHT” exhibit runs on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 5 until 9 p.m.

This story first appeared on our sister publication qns.com.