ArtSEA: Historic Soul Pole returns to Seattle’s Central District

At the Henry Art Gallery, standing in entrance of a 30-foot-wide portray representing springtime, I as soon as once more felt myself pondering this unpredictable, convulsive time of 12 months. Brushstrokes of oil paint blended with sand had left thick churns of oceanic azure, sky blue and jade interspersed with puffs of white paint and flashes of daffodil yellow. It felt just like the sky and grass had collided, swirling into one as it could within the eyes of somebody mendacity intoxicated within the spring grass. 

This sensory, bodily expertise of the seasons may be very a lot the purpose of MAGMA SLIT, an attractive new exhibit by the Bolivian-American artist Donna Huanca on the Henry (on view by way of Feb. 5, 2023). 

Four units of mixed work, every devoted to 1 season, line the partitions and can swap positions in the course of the course of the exhibit. Made from oil paint and sand layered on high of digital picture prints, these mural-sized work really feel monumental.

The overhead soundtrack is a sonic collage made out of layers of sounds Huanca recorded out on the earth and picked up on the web. Featuring chirping birds and sounds seemingly coming from deep inside the earth like roaring magma, it enhances the set up’s sense of scale. The cycle of seasons churns with or with out us. 

Also monumental is the exhibit’s eye-catching central sculpture, a big, bulbous stagelike base crammed with white sand, lit by skylights from above. A mirrored display screen slices by way of the center of the bottom, like a room divider or steel veil. The laser-cut slashes and openings within the screens seemingly take the form of nations on a made-up world map, however are literally primarily based on Huanca’s drawings of small teams of human figures and crowds. Now, within the absence of these folks, recognizing a couple of different masked guests on the opposite facet by way of the gaps, these lacunae really feel apt for this pandemic second, the place something can occur after a serious glitch: The gaps can widen, or we will shut the space.

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