The inaugural exhibition at the new home of the Oklahoma Contemporary Art Center, Bright Golden Haze explores works of art that use light to create place and identity, both physical and conceptual.
The range of artwork includes drawings, paintings, photographs, video, neon, hologram, light installations, and immersive interactive environments, packed into a gallery shaped by fifteen faceted walls. These parameters created design challenges akin to conceiving a sixteen-course meal.
The cohort of world-class artists represented a diversity of approaches and demanded individual treatment of each installation and careful calibration of their experiential unfolding. To create a cohesive journey through the disparate works, we applied a strategic sequence – moving from analog to digital and crafting the orchestration of thresholds from one work to the next. Experiential concerns such as framed views, light contamination, parallax, and afterimage were studied with care.
The introduction to the show is Olafur Eliasson’s slowly rotating Black Glass Eclipse, which emits a golden light that floods the entryway and cancels all color in its vicinity.
Following this powerful beginning is an intimate room featuring a series of small images by Doty Glasco; this subtle work of pale colors required robust spatial support on the heels of the Eliasson. By uniting the walls and floor in an opaque white, the installation lent scale and definition to the ethereal piece.
The domain of white floor works in conjunction with the central composition of walls and introduces a bench for one in front of Vija Celmins’ contemplative Untitled (Large Night Sky) – a dark, celestial drawing dotted with stars. The field of white floor extended a skirt at the base of the subsequent wall of photographic works to enlarge the neutral field of white in the viewer’s peripheral vision.
At times, the design had to calibrate the coexistence of a small-scale work in the vicinity of an extra-large scale work.
The installation design of the 3-foot-wide Vija Celmins piece claimed a larger space that asserted Celmins’ presence alongside Teresita Fernández’s 12-foot-wide, light-reflective Golden, installed on a freestanding wall painted a soft gray to best support the reflected gold light fragments cast onto the floor.
As the exhibition continued to the digital and immersive works, the design rendered a rich experience of intimate encounters and active physical invitation. The color environment also shifted to enhance the visibility of electric light from Robert Irwin’s Lucky You and Tavares Strachan’s I Belong Here.
Other elements of the installation, such as an over-scaled bench, offered a space for contemplation, an overlook for opposite views of the gallery, and a threshold between spaces.
The culmination is a room designed to support Leo Villareal’s specially commissioned Star Ceiling. Its threshold design provides time and space to transition the eye and offers a slow unwinding from the intense digital experience back to the physical environment of the gallery.
Bright Golden Haze Featured Artists: Olafur Eliasson, Doty Glasco, Vija Celmins, Teresita Fernandez, Yatika Fields, Marianne Nicolson, John Gerrard, Eva Schlegel, Abelardo Morell, Josh Tonsfeldt, Robert Irwin, Tavares Strachan, Camille Utterback, James Turrell, Leo Villareal, Alicia Eggert, Jen Lewin, and Robert Montgomery