Oakland, CA—October 6, 2017
The art of Catherine Wagner, Department Head of Arts and Visual Culture at Mills College and internationally acclaimed artist, is part of LUMEN (2014), a collaborative artwork exhibition at Brown University’s Cohen Gallery at the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts.
On exhibit now through November 5, 2017, the group exhibition features work by Catherine Wagner, landscape architect Loretta Gargan, composer Eric Nathan, and architect Thomas Kelley. Lumen is an immersive installation that combines sculpture, video, scent, and an electronic musical score in an investigation of contemporary notions of form, time, and spirituality. Lumen was originally staged at the American Academy in Rome and is being brought to the USA for this special exhibit.
On March 19, 2013 Pope Francis was inaugurated as the 266th Pope of the Catholic Church. His first encyclical letter, Lumen Fidei (The Light of Faith) is infused with talk of the overwhelming potential for humans to flourish during timorous times.
Members of the collaborative team were individually in residence as Rome Prize fellows at the American Academy in Rome in 2013 when the encyclical was given. Driven by a secular regard for the Pope’s palpable sense of hope, renewal, and greater acceptance of outsiders, the installation reevaluates contemporary spirituality in the production of culture.
Stark white minimalist pews will occupy the middle of the long gallery. The traditional timeworn wooden pew that is etched in our collective memory is reinterpreted with a white modernist design that brings the sculpture into a contemporary context. The prayer stands of the pews are replaced with a thyme garden, lit from below with a cool white light. The glow of the light, and vibrant aroma of this herb—traditionally the symbol of heart, flame, vital energy, passion, and smoke—infuses the space, engaging the viewer’s senses even before they pass the threshold.
A six-minute video loop of a gradually changing sliver of light mapping the corner of Wagner’s studio will be projected at the front of the pews. The slightest shift of magnitude in the band of light throws the room between shades of gray; flowing between deep, cool, and light hues. An accompanying musical composition by Eric Nathan infuses the installation with a haunting suite of strings that slide back and forth in a sublime conversation with the changing light.
In conjunction with the exhibition opening on October 5, the Brown Arts Initiative will host a panel discussion with the four artists in Martinos Auditorium from 5:30–6:30 pm, followed by an opening reception in the Cohen Gallery from 6:30–8:00 pm.
Wagner is Department Head of Arts and Visual Culture and has taught undergraduate and graduate art classes at Mills College in Oakland, California for 39 years. An internationally exhibiting artist, Wagner was a Rome Prize Fellow in 2013 a Guggenheim Fellow in 1987, and was awarded a Visual Artist Fellowship in Photography by the National Endowment for the Arts in 1987 and 1991.Wagner is represented by Anglim Gilbert Gallery in San Francisco and Gallery Luisotti in Los Angeles.
About Mills College
Located in Oakland, California, in the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area, Mills College is a nationally renowned independent liberal arts college for women with graduate programs for women and men. Ranked one of the top-tier regional universities in the West by U.S. News & World Report, Mills is also recognized as one of the best 382 colleges in the nation by The Princeton Review. Since 1852, we’ve been empowering students to become creative, independent thinkers who take and inspire action. For more information, visit www.mills.edu.