I Can See Clearly Now

I Can See Clearly Now

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I Can See Clearly Now is a collaborative installation that exists as a mix between painting, sculpture, and set. Throughout the pandemic, we built barriers and reinforced our borders. We covered our faces with cloth masks, erected plexiglass panels between desks and seats, and closed international passageways. As the vaccine becomes more available, we hear Jimmy Cliff singing: “I can see clearly now, the rain is gone. I can see all obstacles in my way.” Our barriers are not erased, but we can at least see or even walk over them. In this experimental exhibition, we layer and weave together porous materials that viewers can look through and move around in response to our current landscape. 

This exhibition evolved and transformed over the course of two weeks while it was on view. Various members of the community collaborated with the installation and staged interventions in the gallery space through the practices of music, dance, lighting design, performance, film projection, and teaching. During these collaborations, the objects in the show were moved, shifted, rearranged, and built into new forms on and off the wall. Visitors to the gallery also joined in or simply witnessed these moments as they occurred in the gallery. The following documents the course of collaborations within this exhibition day by day.

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Day 1: Miranda Holmes, Jackie Courchene, Yukina Sato

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“Drawing the exhibition while Jackie and Yukina performed was an exciting experience to have in a gallery. I worked quickly, using gesture drawing to capture the movements of their bodies as they interacted with the rigid sculptures and airy fabrics. The straight lines from the gridded works in contrast with the quick gestures of arms, fingers, and legs made for some nice difference in line quality in my charcoal drawings. The most exciting points were when the dancers moved a sculpture that appeared straight and rigid in my drawing- I had to smear it out and adjust. In Lydia and Aaron’s exhibition, the grid, the straight line was always subject to movement and displacement.” 

-Miranda Holmes 

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Day 2: Tom Dugdale

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                                                  A Song Written and Performed by Tom Dugdale

                                                  Created for I Can See Clearly Now

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“I was taken with how art was being rearranged by spectators as I entered. It felt bizarre in the usually hyper-protective gallery space, but it settled me. I was surprised by how easily I could concentrate and create in the presence of others, since I often work in a solitary state. It got me thinking that it might be good for us to make our studios public once a week, or more.”  

-Tom Dugdale  

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Day 3: Hannah Parrett Painting 1 Class

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“I brought my Painting 1 class to visit the space, so I had some course objectives planned out. I wanted students to engage with both two- and three-dimensional forms in space as a way to think about time, mark, memory, and gesture. The urgency, earnestness, and play that the students felt when working unburdened from their own subject matter, as well as their focus more so on the object building than the paintings, was powerful.

I broke up my class into two groups, and had them switch roles as the ‘painter’ and the ‘builder.’ The class had two toned colors as a ground for their paintings. We talked about building space through edges and gestural drawing, and how you had to engage with memory because objects and bodies were constantly moving. Representation became a loose term for talking about experience and time. The other group started to problem-solve different attachments with the objects in space. Some students worked together, some built their own spaces. These varied from ‘props’ to ‘landscapes’ to ‘piles.' The shifts in scale were reflected in the paintings.” 

-Hannah Parrett

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Day 4: Drawing Workshop

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This workshop used observational drawing as a way of “seeing clearly” and played with ideas of installation as still life or landscape, and the subjective position of the observer. Participants created rubbings with crayons, traced objects in the gallery on transparent sheets of plastic, and used layering to create collaborative drawings. 

Participants: Miranda Holmes, Christine Fashion, James Hartunian, Chantal Wnuk, and Brad Steinmetz

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Day 6: Layla Muchnik-Benali

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“When Lydia invited me to participate in I Can See Clearly Now, I was drawn to the open-ended, improvisational nature of the project. It seemed like a welcoming and encouraging space to try out different modes of interaction and making, with an emphasis on play and collaboration. I decided to project images/videos onto the different surfaces and walls of the space and play with texture, light, and sound, and I also invited other people in the space to decide what we would project. We discovered that there were many different frames and 'screens' that could receive and hold an image. We projected simulated window scenes, kids' music videos, Riverdance, and a livestream of people making pilgrimages to the Kaaba in Mecca. It was an associative and intuitive process, and I really enjoyed observing the interaction between image and surface, and allowing the light from the projector to become another material within the space.” 

-Layla Muchnik-Benali 

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Day 9: Book Workshop with Brett Davis

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This workshop considered the ephemerality of an installation, documenting it through another artistic form: the zine. Participants were invited to create a zine that incorporated elements of both photography and drawing to celebrate the final day the exhibition was on view in the gallery. 

“What surprised me the most was that everyone approached bookmaking differently. Participants came from different departments such as dance and art. Their approaches to zine making reflect their own practices. For example, a sculptor made a book that felt like an object and a painter made a book that used a variety of material that were more image-based. I was expecting to have to teach- but I didn’t have to teach at all! I was able to sit down and make with others, which was a lot of fun. In conclusion, art is allowed to be fun."

-Brett Davis  

Participants: Jet Ni, Bradley Weyandt, Paul Kelly Veith, Sara Jean Ruiz, Benedict Scheuer, Merijn van der Heijden, Yukina Sato, and Chantal Wnuk

A selection of books created in this workshop have been donated to The Ohio State Libraries’ Rare Books & Manuscripts Library and are available to be viewed by the public. For more information contact reference requests at thospcol@osu.edu or visit the Rare Books & Manuscripts Library website.

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Continued Experimentation

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"I Can See Clearly Now continues to transform and evolve with each new context it reaches. We created these photographs in response to witnessing what happened over the course of the show within Hopkins Hall Gallery. After de-installing, we found ourselves re-staging the work in a studio setting to be assembled for and captured by the camera as virtual documents. In this exercise, we were confronted with limitless possibilities for new compositions but were also challenged by the camera as our only audience, which held a static and single focal point. With the push of a button, the sculptures constructed were suddenly compressed into dense images like paintings. Eager to shift back into the malleability of process, which was so intrinsic to the participatory ethic of our physical show, we began to automate the camera by initiating time-lapse. This allowed us to add, remove, and reassemble the work in the studio, with each intervention generating a series of new meanings."

-Aaron Peters & Lydia Smith

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Artist Interview

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Photos provided by Aaron Peters, Lydia Smith, and Jo McCulty.

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Summer Series is a multi-venue program that showcases short- and long-term projects such as gallery exhibitions, performances, audience participatory work, discussions, research demos, and more. This series encourages collaboration, multidisciplinary approaches and seeks ideas that foster conversations, relationships, or careers, that represent diverse perspectives.