Jaron Childs: How to Make a World / Jonathan Bruce Williams: Anti-Newton

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Jaron Childs: How to Make a World
Jonathan Bruce Williams: Anti-Newton

Minneapolis, MN, January 16, 2014–The Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program (MAEP) at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) opens two new exhibitions on January 17: Jaron Childs’ “How to make a world” and Jonathan Bruce Williams’ “Anti-Newton.” The first showcases a series of hyper-realistic paintings based on photographs of nature that engage the various and contradicting claims made on painting regarding beauty. The second is a sculptural installation blending the science and technology of vision through ocular phenomena.

In “How to make a world,” Childs presents 11 finely detailed paintings, based on his own photographs, that are a rejoinder to contemporary attitudes about beauty in painting. While the photorealistic effects he accomplishes in his labor-intensive paintings are seductive enough to stand on their own, they go deeper. Childs insists the process of copying is always one of transformation, and that he is painting an interpretation rather than capturing, exactly, each of his photographs. He argues, “This only proves just how symbolic painting actually is. Just like my eye, memory wanders and re-writes itself to our taste, flatters us, and looks to an improved narrative. Most of the time, I’m not seeing the photo but rather painting what I think I see. Painting the world as I know it to be.” With a relatively small number of works, this is an intimate and powerful exhibition by one of Minnesota’s strongest painters.

Known for his complex and elaborate mixed-media sculptural installation, the driving principle behind Williams’s “Anti-Newton” is to display the science and technology of vision. In the past, his fascinating installations have used obsolete visual technologies to re-present digital and analog images and “utilize photography as a technical and philosophical strategy.” Placed behind a black curtain, “Anti-Newton” is a large-scale sculptural installation that includes LED lights attached to a 10-foot motorized and truss-mounted shaft. As it spins, the light emitted from the custom-programmed LEDs is captured inside a colored acrylic vitrine, creating a miniature image of the overhead array. The structure works like a human eye but can also be compared to a traditional view camera. The inspiration for “Anti-Newton” developed during the artist’s research on vision and photographic technology, including Newton rings, a phenomena seen in 35 mm glass slide mounts that create an unwanted optical effect during projection. Williams found these optical phenomena to be a fascinating starting point for combining models of physiological and mechanical imaging in an installation.
Although “How to make a world” and “Anti-Newton” are two very different exhibitions, and each artist is a master of very different media, they share certain ideas and conceptual interests. At the heart of both shows is a fascination with how people see, capture, and interpret visual information. Childs’s painted snapshots show how time and labor have increased his personal connection to people and places, while Williams has created a scientifically elegant and almost mystical experiment using a mechanical eye that is experienced as well as seen.

Anne-Marie Wagener, (612) 870-3280; awagener@artsmia.org
Tammy Pleshek, (612) 870-3171; tpleshek@artsmia.org