Playing with light

September 19, 2013 | 4 p.m.

Artist Mary Temple illuminates the Olson Gallery

Culture | Michael Urch

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Temple works to install her exhibit in the Olson Gallery. | Photo for The Clarion by Drea Chalmers

It is hard to believe that an artist of Mary Temple’s caliber has an exhibition on Bethel’s campus. Known both nationally and internationally for her cross-disciplinary artwork, Temple explores themes of trust, transparency and truthfulness.

Temple has been expanding her light installation series since 2002, and she has featured pieces in various locations including California, Texas, New York, Sweden and France. Temple now has expanded this series to reach Bethel's campus.

“The title is a reference to the shape of the gallery, with its gentle curve toward the windows, the light makes up the other half of the curve—a Half-Round,” Temple said.

Described as “acrylic on existing architecture," these works do not consume any physical space. It is not really a sculpture or painting but a sort of conglomeration of the two. Cat Cox and Allison Owen, Temple’s assistants, spent four days on the exhibit now in the Olson gallery.

“We are painting shards of light and shadows on the walls,” Cox said. A lighter shade of paint was used to create an effect resembling sunshine in the room. It appears to be actual light, as if light is shining through a window, yet it is impossible to locate the source of the light.

“Once the viewer discovers the painted light, I hope that there is at least a moment that they believe that it is physical light coming in the room from out of doors,” Temple said.

Although for many this may seem to be a strange goal, Temple sees doubt as an important part of life.

“I want to create a space where doubt is celebrated. A place [where] asking questions because you don't know is joyful. Doubt is so often vilified as a negative state of mind, but I think doubt is at the beginning of every worthwhile journey,” Temple said.

There is one location in the Olson Gallery that has a particularly unique view. It might take a few moments to discover, but standing at a certain height at a central point allows for a comprehensive view of the exhibit.

“If you stand here at my height, everything lines up perfectly. The perspective becomes perfectly aligned. Everywhere else it kind of breaks down—it is something that takes a while to notice,” Owen said.

Temple will be giving a presentation about the exhibit at 6:00 pm on Thursday, Sept. 26. Hearing her speak about her work is an opportunity to extend beyond simply interacting with her work to interacting with the artist herself. Following the lecture, there will be a time to ask questions and learn more about the work from her perspective. Refreshments will be provided.

“I’m really excited that she is coming to Bethel because of the dialogue it will create and the conversation that her art has with belief and unbelief,” said senior art student Jon Engelien.

Half-round (2013) from the light installations series (2002-present) will be featured in the Olson gallery until Jan. 20, 2014.

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