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Standing Wave’ exhibit brings color spectrum to Wexner

Most artists didn’t begin their college studies in glaciology, but there’s at least one who made it successfully from the earth sciences.

“I was taking art classes to fill in my schedule,” Alyson Shotz said in an e-mail. “I’ve been doing art my whole life and so eventually realized that was where I belonged.”

Shotz is the creator of “Standing Wave,” the newly-installed exhibit in the Wexner Center for the Arts lower lobby.

Christopher Bedford, a curator at the Wexner, commissioned Shotz to make “Standing Wave” after seeing one of her pieces at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. “She seemed like a really interesting choice for our lobby,” Bedford said.

Shotz has displayed her work in many museums, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan and the Cleveland Museum of Art. The Wexner is an important addition to her resume.

“It is very important to me to show my work here because the Wexner is known for its very high level of contemporary art museums,” Shotz said. “I’m extremely happy to be able to say that I’m now a part of that history.”

Shotz brings to the Wexner her first colorful piece in years. Her recent works have been colorless, such as “The Structure of Light” (2008) which is made of piano wires, silvered glass beads and metal circles.

In an interview with Bedford about “Standing Wave,” Shotz said, “I was really beginning to miss using color in my work, but yet I didn’t want to paint color on. I wanted it to be a physical, inherent part of the material in some way.” So she began to work with dychroic acrylic – a clear colorless material.

However, “it transmits certain wavelengths of light while reflecting others,” Shotz told Bedford. “It’s a similar phenomenon to what is seen on dragonfly wings or peacock feathers.”

“Standing Wave” is taller than a person, and wide enough for a stroll; its large size makes it very playful and interactive. It looks like hundreds of reflective ribbons glued evenly side-by-side, frozen mid-ripple, creating wave-like bulges in the long curtain. The environment is colorless — white walls, tan floorboards, and grey fixtures — yet the sculpture is vibrant.

“You will benefit hugely from looking at it,” said Bedford. “It’s beautiful; it’s electrifying.”

The colors shift as the observer walks along the 26 bulges, mostly purple and softening shades of pink on either end of the piece’s spectrum, reflecting green and yellow lines on the floor and staircase.

“I want the work to be changing, not static,” Shotz said in an e-mail. “I would like for the experience to be slightly different every time someone sees it.”

Installation of “Standing Wave” was completed January 16; it will be displayed in the Wexner Center’s lobby until April 11. The exhibition is free to all audiences.

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