Benton Museum showcases early modern European art

Amy Alcantara
Staff Writer 

The Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College presented the colloquium “Art and Science” as a tribute to the exhibition “Captured Vision: Optics in Early Modern European Art” Feb. 23 and 24. The colloquium examined the vital interchange moment between art and science. 

In Europe’s early modern period (1500-1800), changes in perceptions between science and art were due to the development of mathematical perspectives. They created these systems to represent three dimensions in a two-dimensional form. 

As stated on the Mutual Art website, the exhibition “Captured Vision: Optics in Early Modern European Art” reexamines the use of perspective as a critical space and a symbolic form where artists contributed to the production that is now considered “the scientific discipline of optics.”

Nilo Naraghi, visitor services manager at the Benton Museum, said the museum presents a pop-up installation every semester for their guests who are part of the colloquiums. The students’ artwork that is displayed is typically associated with an exhibition.

In this exhibit, visitors will be able to see a range of art pieces varying from anamorphoses and puzzles to diagrams and instructional manuals. “The Great Art of Light and Shadow” was published in 1646 and is now part of the exhibition displaying artwork by Athanasius Kircher. One of Albrecht Dürer’s images from the 1532 book, “Treatise on Measurement,” is also part of the exhibition. Guests will be able to view Paul Vredeman de Vries’ work from the 1606-1607 series, “The Five Senses.” In addition to those pieces, there is also a camera obscura and a gift from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, “Christ in Repose,” a painting from circa 1500. 

Art history, classics, studio art and physics students were part of the “Art and Science” colloquium. They each had unique pieces of art which were influenced by the “Captured Vision” exhibit.

Lilly Haave, a senior classics major student at Pomona College, said she was inspired by the “Religious Festival Viewing Theater, 1830-1875” peep box that is part of “Captured Vision” for her artwork. She explained one of the ways that artists put the human experience into art is by using math. She worked with Dwight Whitaker, a professor of physics and astronomy, who helped her with the math to determine how far apart each piece should be and the type of lenses that should be used for this type of box. 

“These are the steps outside of the Frary Dining Hall,” Haave said. “They have a particularly weird allusion of depth at dawn and dusk.” 

Dante Christian, a junior physics major student at Pomona College, was inspired by a variety of different cultures, darkness, beauty and empathy. He focused on how viewers’ eyes would move throughout the pieces using light. For his self-portrait piece, “A Sea of Lavender,” he used paper in different shapes, sizes and shades of lavender to create a calming effect.

“I blocked my eyes out to draw attention because it’s not all about vision,” Christian said. “It’s about your senses and so many other things associated with empathy.” 

The Benton Museum not only hosts pop-up installations with students’ artwork but also provides internship opportunities. 

Maya Moore, a freshman art history major at Pomona College and Benton Museum of Art ambassador intern, said the museum offered her the opportunity to work with artist Wardell Milan. His artwork is displayed in the lobby area and has different billboards around the campus. 

“I wrote a presentation for one of the billboards,” Moore said. “I was able to present it at different events that we had for the Wardell Milan series.”

The “Captured Vision: Optics in Early Modern European Art” exhibition will remain at the Benton Museum until March 26. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. and Thursdays from noon to 10 p.m. Admission is free and visitors may request a guided tour.  

Amy Alcantara can be reached at

Other Stories

Amy Alcantara, a junior communications major with and emphasis in public relations, is a staff writer for the Campus Times.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest Stories

Related articles

Symphonies of color showcased in exhibition

The Benton Museum of Art hosted two new exhibits, “Creation in Three Lines” and “Unsettled Landscapes” on April 20 as their opening celebration.

Artist paints a picture of Introspection

Artist Kameelah Janan Rasheed returned to Pomona College after graduating in 2006 with “Worshiping at the Altar of Certainty: 1985,” a site-specific exhibition that is featured in the Benton Museum of Art.


Campus and community arts events for the week of May 13, 2022.


Campus and community arts events for the week of May 6, 2022.