Viewers enter a realm of ‘Scientific Magic’

Junior Brittney Britt and Professor of Humanities Alfred Clark discuss how the razor etchings on “The Falls III (Triptych)” create a three dimensional effect Tuesday during the Harris Gallery reception for “Scientific Magic.” The installation features Sarah Cromarty and Christopher Russell’s mixed media collaboration. Cromarty’s sculptural paintings and Russell’s photography parallel into magical lands. / photo by Celene Vargas
Junior Brittney Britt and Professor of Humanities Alfred Clark discuss how the razor etchings on “The Falls III (Triptych)” create a three dimensional effect Tuesday during the Harris Gallery reception for “Scientific Magic.” The installation features Sarah Cromarty and Christopher Russell’s mixed media collaboration. Cromarty’s sculptural paintings and Russell’s photography parallel into magical lands. / photo by Celene Vargas

Erum Jaffrey
Arts Editor

Harris Gallery’s latest exhibit, “Scientific Magic” displays the work of artists Christopher Russell and Sarah Cromarty in a combination of two and three dimensions in photography and sculptural pieces.

“The two artists fluctuate between complex rational systems of how to make a picture and strangely intuitive, almost magical ways of presenting a narrative,” said Dion Johnson, gallery director.

Russell’s photo series, “The Falls,” consists of five scratched monochrome photographs. He uses an X-Acto blade to scratch floral patterns, text and masses of ships on top of natural photographs.

“By scratching the drawings into the photos, it’s calling attention to this romantic process that really drives this mechanical process of photography,” Russell said.

“The Falls” highlight monochromatic shades of blue, gold and silver in contrast to Cromarty’s greens, browns and blacks.

“With these images, I throw fabric over the lens before shooting and so I have a predetermined color palette,” Russell said.

His X-Acto blade scratches of ship sails cycle through his work and act as a symbol of romanticism and imagination of the world, Russel said.

“The scratched photos are my favorite because they look natural in a modern way,” said Elijah Gaglio, senior political science major.

“It looks like it ties architecture with the environment,” Galgio said.

Russell is a Portland, Oregon, based artist who received his master’s degree from the Art Center College of Design and has published multiple articles and books about art.

Cromarty’s sculptural paintings invite viewers into a magical world by incorporating mediums such as cardboard, glitter and thread to create nonconventional works that are placed in the environment.

“These pieces are a continuation of large-scale paintings I made of wizard people in the jungle,” Cromarty said.

“With (this exhibit), it’s kind of taking away the people (in the pieces) and going into an internal headspace of portal shifting where these people would go if they were to travel through time,” she said.

“The Search” is a 3D sculptural painting that depicts a majestic waterfall in a forest. It is made of cardboard, oil paint, yarn, wood and chains. In the corner of the painting, there is a green mask.

“These chains serve as adornment for the painting,” Cromarty said.

“The common theme in most of these pieces is the mask, which is a digital relic serving a message to these people (in the art) as a guiding point.”

Cromarty is a Los Angeles based artist with her master’s in fine arts from UCLA and has work featured in Buenos Aires, Rotterdam, Chicago and more.

Both artists’ works juxtapose and compliment one another and emerge viewers into a world of “Scientific Magic,” which runs through May 15.

“Two seemingly opposite words together in the title make sense when the works become a vehicle for you to step out of reality and find yourself in a daydream,” Johnson said.

Admission is free.

Erum Jaffrey can be reached at erum.jaffrey@laverne.edu.

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