Tuesday, April 18, 2017



By Tom Wachunas

EXHIBIT: POM POM NEBULAE MICRO RESIDENCY, By Dana Lynn Harper / Main Hall Art Gallery / Kent State University at Stark, 6000 Frank Avenue NW, North Canton, Ohio / THROUGH MAY 5, 2017 – Gallery Talk and Artist Reception on Thursday, May 4, 9:30 a.m. / Viewing hours: Monday – Friday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

     “About my method of work: first it’s the state of mind—Elation (joy).”  - Alexander Calder

    “For me, an object is a living thing.”  - Joan Miró

   “…the works act as a portal to warm feelings and childhood fantasy, a social catalyst for interaction and connection. Playful patterns, dancing tinsel and unapologetic fluorescent colors are not only a testament to the beauty of life, but to the ever-encompassing joy of living.”   - Dana Lynn Harper
   Nebula, noun; plural nebulae [neb-yuh-lee, -lahy], nebulas.
   In astronomy, a cloud of interstellar gas and dust;(formerly) any celestial   object that appears nebulous, hazy, or fuzzy, and extended in a telescope view.

   With this scintillating installation, Dana Lynn Harper has constructed a multidimensional ode to joy.

   The white gallery walls aren’t a final destination. The physical space is not merely a container, or a formal resting place for passively examining interesting objects. The artist’s work is not a compendium of clues to solve any particular riddle or discern a single message. Think of Harper as a playwright (play right?) who has provided tantalizing props in a story which in fact calls on us, the viewers, to be co-authors.

   Dozens of small (from Harper’s hand to yours, so to speak) doodads and thingamabobs float in the air, hung on nearly invisible monofilament lines strung from the ceiling. These dazzling contrivances are made from diverse synthetic substances, a combination of manipulated found materials and thrift store trinkets, and often have the look of children’s playthings. But they just as frequently suggest cosmic and organic forms, floral and animal, at once strange and familiar, mysterious and whimsical: Astral clouds and psychedelic plankton confer with childhood juju.   
   Stepping into the gallery is to enter a field, or better yet an atmosphere more vast than the physical dimensions of the place would seem to allow. Here the mundane and the metaphysical converge into an expanse of squiggling, feathery shapes and amorphous ornaments that seem to pulse on their own with electrifying color. Try focusing your field of vision so as to lose your sense of place, to not notice ceiling or floor or corners. Then be transported into the purity of an implied infinity, where unbound imagination can make unexpected discoveries and surprising connections.  

   Here, then, the gallery has been transformed into an enchanting firmament of suggestibility. More than a conventional 3D space to house static objects, the gallery air itself has become an animated, experiential gestalt.  Consider it an open-ended invitation, literally and figuratively, for us to be active performers in a spectacular theatre of possibilities. 

   This wholly immersive work of dangling talismans is far greater than the sum of its fastidiously placed parts. RSVP. I dare you not to smile.

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