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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, April 14, 2024

Art for Math-lovers

Walking into Gallery NAGA, coolly removing the Beatnik shades and preparing to play art critic for the day, there's a disconcerting surprise. The moving holographic images on the walls portray lifelike images: a man kneeling down closely observing the room, and a family of three smiling in greeting.

At first, this voyeurism is unnerving. But as the realistic eyes of these holographic portraits invite examination, they also welcome viewer engagement. These are the exhibited holographs of Harriet Casdin-Silver, one of a dual-artist exhibition at the NAGA Gallery on Newbury Street this month.

The two types of work featured in the exhibit are unconventional and unique. Casdin-Silver is an 80-year-old master artist, and co-exhibitionist Reese Inman makes her gallery debut. Though both artists are at very different, if not opposite, stages in their artistic lives, they both incorporate the conventional arts as well as the use - and even the abuse - of technology.

Casdin-Silver is recognized worldwide for her innovative use of holography, and the exhibit also includes some of her more recent photography prints. She has bravely expanded the boundaries of holographic art by portraying images that convey a sense of sincerity and compassion. A particularly touching hologram image of a couple sitting together captures the precise moment when the man lays his head on the woman's shoulder. Since the only times one ever really sees holograms are on credit cards and such, viewers will be astounded by how moving Casdin-Silver's illusions can be.

After looking at Silver's "Holographic Portraits and Other Work" exhibit, viewers move beyond a wide column that almost divides the gallery in half and arrive among walls covered by the work of Reese Inman, whose underlying messages aren't so easily grasped as Casdin-Silver's.

By combining her background as a computer programmer, designer, and artist, Inman creates the "Algorithm Map Series." This series consists of a number of square panels with an array of multi-colored dots arranged in algebraically significant patterns. It is a wondrous blending of mathematics and art and is a powerful message of the "technology overload" in our modern society.

On the surface, Reese's work is a bunch of painted dots, but her work is much deeper than that - almost esoteric. Granted, many may characterize art in general as an obscure field, but even an ardent lover of the arts could struggle to understand the meaning behind Inman's work.

A quick trip to the curator's information booth provides a guide to Inman's seemingly random dots. Upon closer inspection, there is a rhythmic flow to each painting, created by individual software that allowed Inman to create a unique algorithmic pattern. More people than mathematicians can appreciate that. With a little research, it's easy to have respect for Inman's challenging and risky nature.

Overall, the exhibit was probably not the most riveting gallery experience, mostly due to the minimal selection displayed for both artists. Although it is understandable given the size of the gallery and exhibit, the small collections don't allow viewers enough time to immerse themselves in the artists' work. Despite this, however, Gallery NAGA is undoubtedly enjoyable and thought-provoking.