The Weatherspoon Art Museum kick starts the school year for those returning to UNCG with a new gallery that is just as puzzling as scheduling the hustle and bustle of the semester. It is entitled “For All Time: Interpretations of the Fourth Dimension from the Collection,” and deals with representing just that – the fourth dimension. It is an abstract concept, or at least it is to someone like me who is not a mathematical genius or an artist with the technical skill to even imagine a dimension past the one we live in, yet alone try to represent it. In lieu of giving complicated formulas or drawn-out explanations of the fourth dimension, the gallery uses ideas of time to give the concept a physical presence.
How does one go about giving representation to a concept so encompassing and mysterious as time? Curator of Collections, Elaine Gustafson, gives expression and diversity of interpretations of time in the selected pieces. Time is manipulated, and we can explore the different ways time can be interpreted in these art pieces.
For example, in Eadweard Muybridge’s “Animal Locomotion,” the sequential images of a horse running capture the sequence of time in a way the naked eye could not otherwise make sense of. Muybridge was a pioneer of photography, and this series of photos is a valuable treasure in the Weatherspoon’s collection. “Animal Locomotion” was finished in 1887 and was the first to capture time in a sequence in this stop-motion style.
Another way the gallery allows for visitors to become aware of time is through pieces like “TV Tank” by Ada Tolla and Giuseppe Lignano. “TV Tank” is an interactive installment, where visitors are offered a comfortable seat in a refurbished petroleum trailer tank with a built-in television. Guests must spend time with this piece while surfing channels, and are offered a choice as to how long they would like to stay. Gustafson includes “an element of humor to it,” with wall hangings like a tombstone with the words “BEGIN” on it in big letters.
The largest piece breaks expectation, with part of the tunnel-shaped installation hidden behind a blank wall for guests to discover as they move from one part of the gallery to another. A glass mobile entitled “Yellow Sail” by artist Alexander Calder shines a light that bounces off the blank wall behind it, changing with every disturbance in the otherwise calm air of the gallery. Maybe this piece represents more clearly the place we have in the concept of time: suspended in the middle of it all, in a sort of balance.
This is art that offers worlds of interpretation, as most pieces change with time and circumstance. Gustafson says the exhibition “expresses a variety of ways artists have explored this multifarious concept, be it metaphorically, ironically, sequentially or kinetically.”
If you would like to learn more about the artwork featured in “For All Time,” you are invited to join museum staff on Oct. 10 for their monthly “Noon at the ‘Spoon” tour. This 20-minute tour of the gallery will give guests a better sense of how to interpret the art they are viewing and is a perfect time to ask any questions you might have. This tour is free and open to the public.
The exhibition opened on Aug. 19 and will stick around until Feb. 11. You can see the fourth dimension in motion for yourself at The Gregory D. Ivy Gallery on the second floor of the Weatherspoon Art Museum. Museum hours are from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Fridays, and 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. on Sundays. The museum is closed on Mondays.