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Infectious by design: Urban Arts Space gallery magnifies behavior of smallest life-forms

'Stalled (Encroaching),' a work by Molly Burke 2013 composed of the medium porcelain on found object. Credit: Courtesy of Molly Burke

‘Stalled (Encroaching),’ a work by Molly Burke 2013 composed of
the medium porcelain on found object.
Credit: Courtesy of Molly Burke

Art and science might be divided in its academic curriculum, but one Ohio State exhibition has made biology its focus.

Three artists have combined their works to display the cohesion between them in a new exhibition coming to OSU’s Urban Arts Space this weekend.

“Repetition Isolation: The Abundance Within,” explores a number of semi-connected organic themes, including the human form, mortality and the smallest of life-forms.  

The exhibition is set to include mixed media installations, scultpture and drawings, said Bethany Haeseler, an assistant professor at SUNY Potsdam whose work is in the exhibition.

It was Haeseler’s idea to create an exhibition with Molly Burke and Danielle Johns. She has previously worked with both artists separately, but this is the first time they all will be showing their works together. Haeseler collaborated with Burke three other times, including a two-person exhibition at the Ohio Art League’ gallery in 2008, Haeseler said. This will be the second time she will exhibit with Johns. 

“This show is actually just the three of us showing works that I think correlate to each other,” said Burke, the assistant director of Graduate Studies at Columbus College of Art and Design. “We’re not actually collaborating on a specific piece.”

Burke has always explored specimens and cellular structures within her work.

“They usually mimic specimens and cellular structures and I think the isolation has to do with kind of … a sadness that occurs because a lot of these are about disease or things that are dying,” she said.

Though different in tone, that focus on the microscopic level draws similarities with both Haeseler’s and Johns’ work.

“Between the three of us, there is an interesting level conceptual overlap,” Haeseler said. “However, the resulting artwork is aesthetically very different … I realized that there was an opportunity to develop an exhibition that built on these commonalities while also emphasizing our individual strengths as artists.”

The exhibition features a combination of old works and new pieces which were created specifically for this show, Haeseler said. The women have been working on the exhibition for six months, said Johns, an adjunct professor of studio art at SUNY Potsdam.

Each artist also explored their ideas using non-traditional materials, including polyester fiber, Plasticine and Swarovski crystals. Ironically, it was these synthetic materials that helped the artists explore the behavior of life.

“(Burke)’s work often focuses on the abandonment of growths and colonies,” Haeseler said. “Over the years, my own work has become rather colorful and flamboyant. There’s a lot of abundance that demonstrates the overgrowth of cells at the peak of an infection. With the delicacy of her drawings and isolation of the figures, Danielle’s work ties everything together.”

Johns and Haeseler both said they want viewers to relate to the work and connect to the work emotionally.

“When a work of art moves you, it is one of the most incredible experiences,” Haeseler said. “Life is fragile. Don’t be afraid to be sentimental. Sometimes the body does things behind your back.”

The exhibition is set to be in the hallway of the Urban Arts Space that leads into the gallery beginning Saturday. It is slated to be on display until Nov. 15.

The Urban Arts Space is located in downtown Columbus, at 50 W. Town St. It is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., with hours extended until 8 p.m. on Thursdays.

Admission is free.

One comment

  1. Hey! I was reading this article and I noticed an error or two. Try to not refer to Urban Arts Space as The Urban Arts Space, and when referring to the “hallway,” you may want to mention that it is called City Center Gallery.


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