– Gallery Visio exhibit of works by artist Peter Seay, which runs through February 19, examines space and process.PHOTO: Visitors to Gallery Visio enjoyed refreshments while viewing the art at the opening reception for Peter Seay’s “All That Becomes Death” art exhibit. Photo by Heather Welborn for The Current 2014 ©
By Heather Welborn, Features Editor for The Current
Gallery Visio hosted the opening reception of their newest exhibition, “All That Becomes Death,” on January 23. Students and faculty enjoyed a light buffet lunch as they viewed the works of St. Louis artist Peter Seay. The collection featured seven untitled mounted pieces and a dichromatic video projection.
The gallery space was packed for the opening, with curious viewers who snacked on spinach dip and baked desserts as they chatted with fellow attendees. Others stood closely to the artwork as they asked Seay questions. His responses to direct inquiries about his pieces were intentionally ambiguous, as was evident by the collection’s curator essay.
Instead of the usual string of paragraphs explaining the artist’s intent, Seay accompanied his exhibition with a list of cryptic clues. Of the nine puzzling hints, Clue 5 made the most sense in relation to the exhibit. It read “They direct to the sitting position (56),” ambiguously interpreted to represent the projected media piece.
The black and white footage that played on the wall featured a seated figure with a similar shadowy silhouette overlapping it. The visual layering created an eerie, ephemeral effect. Every few seconds, the position of the figures would change slightly, causing viewers to take a closer look at the footage. Many observers questioned if the image had changed at all, creating a collective sense of shared doubt while viewing the installation.
Seay’s printed pieces consisted of a single female figure photographed repeatedly in slightly altered positions. The photographs were printed onto massive pages before being sliced out and layered with a dozen other images, each varying only slightly from the next. These images were then nailed to a particle board and mounted on the gallery walls. The superimposition created a strange effect, reminiscent of a peripheral image or a song with a slight skip.
The overwhelming comment overheard at the opening was whether or not the images differed from one another. For instance, two unprocessed pieces that faced each other seemed identical, until inspecting the slight differences in hand position and wardrobe composition. In some portraits, the figure seems to differ only in the stitching of her jeans or how her hair lays over her shoulder.
One uncut piece seemed to stand alone upon initial inspection. Closer examination of the print showed a stack of paper underneath. With Seay’s permission, viewers carefully lifted each sheet to reveal additional images similar to the first with only slight alteration.
Seay mentioned the importance of selection of space to his work. He spent three days working on the exhibit in the gallery. Instead of bringing in finished pieces, Seay photographed his subject on location, and prepared each piece within the gallery space. This element introduces a deeper connection to the physical creative environment. This link was further condensed in another untitled piece in the center of the room, where Seay hung the thick paper mat he used to prepare every paper component of the collection.
Seay commented on the intuitive trial-and-error process of producing fine art for a wide audience. He affirmed that his creative impulse was focused on this process, more so than the finished product. He mused for a moment over an idea he usually employs in his paper installations, where he leaves the large scraps of sliced paper on the floor as they fall. The mess would have further emphasized the effort Seay put into his work within the gallery space.
“All That Becomes Death” will remain at the Gallery Visio until February 19. For information on gallery hours and upcoming events, visit the gallery in-person, or online at umsl.edu/~galvisio. More of Seay’s artwork can be found at peterseay.com
© The Current 2014