The group exhibition Light and the Unseen reflects on the subject of light, whose study has crossed disciplines throughout history due to its appeal to a variety of thinkers, including artists, writers, and scientists. The exhibition highlights the work of seven artists that do not necessarily consider light to be the main subject of their work. Instead, they use light—whether as a material or a guiding concept—to explore ideas about vision, physics, the cosmos, belief systems, and the human relationship to light, both physically and psychologically. Curated by Julie Rudder, Light and the Unseen includes work by Pamela Bannos, Dana Carter, Joseph Grimm, Roxane Hopper, Michael Robinson, Daniel Sauter, and Olivia Schreiner.
Light—which illuminates, reveals, and renders visible—has long been utilized as a marker for clarity, rationality, and intelligence. Light and the Unseen recognizes this history and takes it as its point of departure, using it as a touchstone for further exploration. The artwork in the exhibition sheds light on light’s complex relationship to that which is not visible, but with which light has inevitable, intricate ties: the unseen. While light may not be able to physically reach certain spaces of the mind, soul, spirit, or cosmos, its phenomenological and metaphysical power nevertheless illumines those unseen spaces, manifested through light’s representation in spiritual, cosmological, and even physically grounded—but invisible to the naked eye—biological structures and experiences.
In addition to the works in the gallery, the subject of light will be explored through a collaborative publication. Designed by Roxanne Hopper, the book joins the artists’ reflections with writings from poet Catherine Theis, astrophysicist Rodolfo Montez, and curator Julie Rudder.
Light and the Unseen is guest curated by Julie Rudder, an artist and independent curator living in Chicago. She co-directed and co-curated Vega Estates, an artist- run exhibition space in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, from 2007 to 2009. Recent exhibitions organized by Rudder include Embracing the Farb: Modes of Reenactment at Columbia College’s Glass Curtain Gallery (2012). In conjunction with Light and the Unseen, Rudder was the 2011-2012 Library Fellow at the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities at Northwestern University, where she focused on research for the exhibition.