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New architecture-inspired exhibitions come to the Wexner Center for the Arts

“S-337473,” by Sarah Oppenheimer, features an interactive rotating column. Credit: Emily Dean | Lantern Reporter

The Winter Exhibition Preview this Friday at the Wexner Center for the Arts kicked off this semester’s latest feature of works by two award-winning New York-based artists, Carmen Herrera and Sarah Oppenheimer.

“Carmen Herrera: Lines of Sight” is the first major retrospective exhibition by a Cuban native in a United States museum in nearly 20 years. Herrera’s work spans over 70 years of her life — and she is still producing artwork at the age of 101. The exhibition debuted last fall in the Whitney Museum of American Art in Manhattan, and the Wex is the second and only other venue to host the collection, according to a press release.

Herrera’s early years focused on the development of her geometric abstract style that came from studying architecture, which would later become her signature aesthetic. “Lines of Sight” presents an extensive look at these developments in the collection of 50 works, according to a press release. Dana Miller, curator and director of Herrera’s collection at the Whitney Museum of American Art, described Herrera’s work as “groundbreaking” and experimental in nature.

“Herrera was in many ways a woman ahead of her time. We are all just now starting to catch up with her,” Miller said in a press release.

Sherri Geldin, director of the Wex, referred to a quote from Herrera in conversation with Miller.

“She said ‘I wouldn’t paint the way I do if I didn’t go to architecture school. That’s where I learned to think abstractly, and to draw like an architect,’” Geldin said. “So it was in fact Herrera’s deep affinity for architecture that led us to pair this exhibition with that of Sarah Oppenheimer.”

Oppenheimer’s installment, “S-337473,” is a product that was specifically commissioned for the space. The project required Oppenheimer, a New York native, to reside in Columbus for two years until completion under the Wexner Center for the Arts Residency Award, and the building had to undergo structural changes to provide reinforcement for the piece. “S-337473” features two large glass switches that rotate in response to interaction with visitors.

A conversation with the Oppenheimer was held Friday in conjunction with the the exhibition’s opening reception. The artist talked with Laurent Stalder, chair for the Theory of Architecture at the Swiss university ETH in Zurich, about the conception and construction of the structure.

Oppenheimer contrasted her construction experience with a typical procedure in galleries that involves the utilization of temporary walls to accommodate rotating displays of artists’ works.

“This is a great opportunity for students of architecture to see beyond the typical boundaries of what they study,” said Melissa Starker, creative content manager for the Wex.

The galleries will be on display until April 16. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday, and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday – Saturday. The galleries are closed Mondays. Admission is free for college students.

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