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Behind the Exhibit: Art Light

Lighting like you’ve never seen it before

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Stop into the New York location of Carpenters Workshop Gallery before March 4th, 2017 to experience Art Light, an exhibition that celebrates the 10th anniversary of the gallery and reinvents the way we think about lighting. The lights at this exhibition are not just beautiful lamps but lighting like you’ve never seen before. The gallery’s director, Ashlee Harrison, elaborates, “There’s always been a strong emphasis on sculpture [at Carpenters Workshop Gallery], on incredible craftsmanship and the integration of that with contemporary narratives in design. [Art Light] is a group show that pulls together all of those elements. There’s a thread even though many of our artists have strong personal narratives and aesthetics that differ from the next. That element of sculpture pulls together the entire show. I think it’s really interesting how so many artists are pushing boundaries and reinventing the way we think about lighting pieces and functional objects.”

Nacho Carbonell, one of the artists in show, sees objects as “living organisms that come to life and surprise you with their behavior,” which seems to apply to many of the works in the show, as multiple pieces examine movement and nature. Carbonell’s own Cocoon series creates soft, malleable-appearing table fixtures out of industrial materials. Ashlee Harrison highlighted a few pieces during our conversation that also work with movement: Random International’s Swarm Study and Mathieu Lehanneur’s Les Cordes. 

Random International, well known for their Rain Room installation recently exhibited at LACMA, created Swarm Study as a study of behavioral movement of bees and their swarming pattern. Harrison feels the work is quite significant, continuing, “The first iteration of the swarm piece was on view at the Victoria and Albert Museum. When you look at their spectrum of work, it’s always very large scale and institutional—monumental installations. This is a much more domesticated iteration of a previous installation they did at Victoria and Albert. The piece is responsive to the viewer as it engages and mirrors this movement through light. That piece, to me, is quite interesting and has been a real hit of the show.” 

Of another hit piece, Les Cordes by Mathieu Lehanneur, Harrison said, “He’s exploring new materiality and technology with this woven LED. With the woven LED, you’re able to achieve warm light, cool light. You can change the mood of a complete space by playing with the dimmability and temperature of the light. It’s the first time they’re showing it here in the states. It’s an outstanding piece and it’s gotten quite the response.” 

Art Light aims to display the work from a range of the gallery’s artists—from the emerging designers to many of the long-standing artists that Harrison and the gallery have worked with over time. Harrison explains, “We wanted to show the range of works of all different sizes, different mediums, that explore the integration of master craftsmanship, new technology and new narratives, new materials. You’re exploring different pieces that create a dialogue with one another.” The exhibition is definitely an exploration, with the almost whimsical pieces of lighting completely transporting the visitor.

Get more information on visiting Art Light here.