At the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, people are queuing up to spend a scant two minutes inside Yosori Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Room for an experience titled “Love is Calling.” The installation speaks to what museum-goers are coveting these days, an immersive experience rather than simply a static viewing of artwork.
Thanks to the Cahoon Museum of American Art, you don’t have to drive to Boston for such an experience. Soo Sunny Park’s “Boundary Conditions” is equally absorbing, and you can experience it for as long as you like.
Installed in the museum’s downstairs gallery that most recently was painted a deep shade of blue in order to enhance the museum’s daguerreotype show, “Boundary Conditions” transforms the entire room with bright colors, reflections, and the suspended pieces of the installation. Steel grids bent into flowing shapes are woven with translucent acrylic strips, some clear and some colored, and hang at, above and below eye level. Light from outside reflects on the floor and walls, depending on the weather and the time of day. Additionally, the artist has painted some of the reflections she observed in shades of gray on parts of the walls and the floor. Museum-goers can walk through the room and around the pieces, momentarily becoming part of the work themselves.
“It changes over the course of the day,” said Kelly Brox, the museum’s community engagement manager. “At night it kind of glows.”
“There’s a big trend in museums to have installations, so I thought we’d give it a try,” said Sarah Johnson, the museum’s director and curator.
An admirer of her work, Ms. Johnson said she reached out to Ms. Park, who is a professor at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. “Boundary Conditions” has also been exhibited at the New Britain Museum of American Art in Connecticut. It’s been completely reconfigured for the Cahoon, based on the size and shape of the space.
“I was thinking when we were planning this year’s exhibit cycle that I really wanted to try new things,” Ms. Johnson said. “We did the outdoor exhibit with Konstantin Dimopoulos’s “Blue Trees” and the very historical daguerreotype show.”
Assembling “Boundary Conditions” took four days. “It was a complex installation for us,” said Ms. Johnson, who noted the artist even required the benches be removed from the gallery. “In order to have the experience like you’re completely inside of the art, we had to remove any distracting components.”
Even the wall text for “Boundary Conditions” exists outside of the gallery. It’s in another space on the first floor of the museum, along with some of Ms. Park’s concept work. In the wall text Ms. Park describes her experiences immigrating to the United States when she was in grade school, and how she developed as a visual artist in part because of the language barrier that existed when she was younger.
With the title “Boundary Conditions,” Ms. Johnson explained that for Ms. Park the piece is “the sculpture and also the shadows and the drawings and the space in between.” Ms. Johnson also noted that a lot of times, artists working on installations will use building materials and other found art-type components in order to make the piece more about art as an experience rather than the art as something precious and untouchable.
In conjunction with Ms. Park’s exhibit, the Cahoon is also showing “Inspirations,” the work of Brewster weaver Gretchen Romey-Tanzer. Both exhibits are on view through December 22.
As part of Christmas in Cotuit celebration, the Cahoon Museum will be open to the public free of charge on Saturday, December 7, from 10 AM to 4 PM. In addition to the exhibits, there will be light refreshments and art activities.
“When people are seeking their art and culture fix they often go somewhere else besides the Cape,” said Ms. Johnson, adding that Cape audiences might not be expecting something as unusual as “Boundary Conditions.” “It’s here for such a short time and it’s so different. I would love to get people in to see this.”