The creator behind the “The Starry Messenger”

Kris Iden showcases a movement of experiences through her art

The Ferguson Center for the Arts invited the Christopher Newport community to an artist reception on Nov. 4, a showcase for the Ferguson’s newest temporary exhibits. If you walk down the halls of the Ferguson to the Falk Gallery, you will encounter a rather lovely collection. The Falk Gallery displays Kris Iden’s newest exhibit, “The Starry Messenger.” Iden had been diligently working on the series for the past three years before its final presentation at CNU. 

The Falk Gallery interns are in charge of the exhibition’s planning in coordination with Iden’s series. The intern team created a new structure in the middle of the room that allows the exhibit to be strictly circular to catch the viewers attention, rather than leaving it as a plain, square room. The way the exhibit was planned out seemed very professional, yet intriguing in its modesty at the same time. 

The technical aspect behind the exhibit was quite simple in taste. The lighting of the room creates an airy atmosphere, letting visitors like myself guide through at ease. Even though the lighting was more white than warm-toned, the colors of each piece were truthfully shown. Each piece was carefully enlightened in order to show the simplistic, yet intricate details. There was no frame left out of the exhibition; each piece had an equal presentation within the exhibit.   

Even though most of the series is online, not everything is presented like it is in the exhibit. The exhibit is a chance for an artist to have the freedom to enlarge their idea for the public, and possibly find new ways to interpret their artist statement. The lighting on Iden’s website is desperately too dark for some pieces to be truly understood, so the exhibit creates a space that can enlighten the series truthfully. For instance, “…the center is everywhere” piece is presented with shadows within it. While in person, the piece is lightened just right for the purpose to see every faint line dramatically. The exhibit is able to provide exactly what Iden wanted to showcase: it’s difficult to see what’s remotely in front of you, unless you given the piece another longing glance.   

Now, the pieces are lovely and wonderful. Iden mainly used graphite, intaglio and watercolor in her artistic creation. Though, there was one resource used that wasn’t quite as popular as the rest. One of the materials used in the process was mica powder (a natural substance pigment), which was intended to be a more textured, watercolor paint that resembles the earthly substances in everyday life. The paint strokes that used mica glistened in comparison to the rest of her works. During the reception, Iden stated that “the world we are living in now…we really are made of such basic material and stuff you really get in a hardware store,” which genuinely hit home. 

As shown by the piece “matter didn’t spread out evenly,” the unique circular shapes and lines overlapped and mingled across the page. From purely looking at the two pieces in connection with one another, you can begin to understand how everything, or every person, collectively joins in moments. In my opinion,  I may see the figures as an aerial view of a crowd, or maybe an assembly of atoms in one point of time. This piece purely presents Iden’s work, how space is inherently being occupied throughout time and all of the movements used in between. From the faded and dark circular outlines to the watercolor-filled rounded shapes, the way Iden spacially presented her thoughts distributed beautifully.

In our interview, Iden discussed how the  paper’s color can present the movement being shown in the pieces. For pink paper, as shown in the piece “nothingness is alive with possibilities,” there is no solid substance, but just the periphery. For the smaller grey paper, there is the periphery of the shapes and its mass, showcased as either one solid shape or two solid shapes. If you take a moment longer than what you thought you needed, the realization of the movements within the papers bounds and the subjects connections to the paper come to a full circle. 

When discussing with her what is represented in her work, Iden states, “These drawings do not have imagery. The rocks in them are not images of rocks. Instead they offered the least referential derivative shapes possible to work with.” Through this statement, it’s theorized that Iden’s creation encompasses a visual rhetoric. Iden continues, “There is no representation in these pictures, so they are not making pictures of things… though, it’s a study more or less.” 

One quote used in Iden’s exhibit jumped out to me: “The moon shines in my body, but my blind eyes cannot see it,” which is from Kabir’s poem, “There’s A Moon Inside My Body.” Though we cannot see what we are doing, it is there, realistically or not. This poem resonated with me throughout the exhibit as I discovered each piece. Then, as I walked around carefully considering the titles and content of the pieces, I try to manifest what could be a current, central theme of the exhibit. As soon as I remembered what it could possibly be, I walked over to the entrance of the exhibit to read the artist statement about why this exhibit is so special. 

Iden’s statement brings to full circle about why the Ferguson Center for the Arts had chosen this piece. In an interview, Iden spoke of one word that came to mind about why this series was significant, and what summed everything up: Contemplative. The word “Contemplative” is described as an action of expressing or involving prolonged thought. Throughout her work, Iden is circling about what it means to be meaningful in this world.

The exhibit will be available until June 24. Considering winter break is coming up, I highly encourage anyone to see this thought-provoking exhibit as soon as they can.

~Ashley McMillan, A&E Editor~

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