“How might our understanding of art shift if we consider artworks not strictly as objects but individual, constructed worlds?” This is the question posed by Worlding, a five-person show envisioned and executed by the New York Professional Outreach Program’s curator Mia Curran at the Richmond Center for Visual Arts at Western Michigan University. The question acknowledges the art-making process as one of world building, in the sense that artists are continuously generating sets of rules to govern their work.
What worlds exist within the sprawling Albertine Monroe-Brown Gallery? There are little worlds, like the intimate, playful terrariums of Ajay Kurian, which host childish ephemera — plastic toys, sparkly pipe cleaners, and LED lights — inside cast-resin balls or a fish tank-like enclosure. There are also symbolic worlds, like the intermedia works of Hayal Pozanti, which parlay data points and statistics into an alphabet of the artist’s own invention, dubbed “Instant Paradise.” The results come in the form of digital animations, paintings, and sculptures — some display individual “letters” (resembling a kind of modern art kanji, or other Eastern language characters) on stretched, round canvases, called “sun shades,” sculpted out of roughly textured polystyrene foam, calcium carbonate, acrylic polymer, and acrylic paint — all of which evoke a sense of alien artifact.