“Look but don’t touch.” Those are the words we always remember on our first trip to a museum or into a gallery where art is hung on the wall. It is a thing of beauty never to be touched but only looked upon therefore we have always believed that is the appropriate protocol in experiencing art.
Colleen Blackard’s show “Shifting Perception” held recently at Orchard Windows Gallery dared to subvert that convention. In this solo show, Blackard has crafted her artwork into a tactile experience that changes our perceptions literally about how we appreciate art in this ever changing sphere of the contemporary realm.
Rendered in ball point pen with intricate circular movements that each artwork is a painstaking process but the resulting image looks effortless. Blackard creates iconic visuals or scenes that are easy to commit to memory. The twist to this presentation is the exterior cover of translucent construction paper on top of the artwork. You are directed to touch the surface to bring forth the image underneath. As your eyes navigate the forms that emerge while you trace the surface with your hands, it is an entirely new way to experience art. The barrier of just merely observing has given way to a sensory dialog where touch is integral to really be attuned to the effect of her pieces. Impressions are lasting imprints on the mind and its memory defies loss. Memory is a running theme throughout her show as Blackard has personal experience in the matter of her grandmother who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. In dedicating this show to the cause, 25% of the sales proceeds will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association New York City Chapter.
Blackard entices the viewer to really delve into a personal place with such intimacy that beholding each piece becomes almost a singular experience. The gallery transforms into a place for deep solo reflection without the fear of the old conventions. You can get lost and be transfixed as you keep on touching and looking at the images struggling forth to manifest itself past the opaque barrier. The more you apply your strength, the more defined the images come out but it is also inversely ethereal as your fingers skim gently across it. What you see is entirely up to you and therefore what your perception of the same picture will be different from somebody else.
“The palest ink is better than the best memory” – The Chinese proverb typifies what it is eventually distilled in Blackard’s latest series. You come away haunted by the wisp of an impression rather than a searing bold image. It is a thing of beauty indeed that is committed into your memory for all eternity.
Shifting Perception was shown last August 13-20, 2012 at Orchard Windows. 37 Orchard Street, New York, NY. For more information about the artist visit: ColleenBlackard.com
article by: Oscar A. Laluyan
video link & event photos by: Deukyun Hwang