With the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in the rearview and the summer solstice just a few days behind us, no one could blame the crowds for lying low and seeking respite in air-conditioned living rooms. But sitting in the air conditioning for too long can create an unintended brain freeze of catastrophic proportions.
After all, it’s important to keep those cultural and intellectual muscles sharp during a time when it’s easy to binge-watch whatever show is on Netflix or Hulu. Plus, you’ve already watched “Orange Is the New Black” three times already.
A good place to start a summer art adventure is at the Halsey Institute for Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston where the current exhibition is from Brooklyn-based artist Alyson Shotz. The exhibition, “Force of Nature,” is an amalgamation of various disciplines — science, mathematics, literature — that are bridged together by Shotz’ use of nontraditional materials such as glass beads, welded aluminum and digital imaging.
Shotz is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, whose notable alumni include David Byrne of Talking Heads and Charleston native and worldwide propaganda artist Shepard Fairey.
She explores ideas of sculptural space and form in her exhibition. For those of us who aren’t well versed in artistic lingo, the exhibit demonstrates how Shotz’s work is without a fixed focal point and easily viewed from multiple perspectives. In other words, her art appears constantly in motion.
But it’s not enough to say that her work is open to viewer interpretation; all art, to some degree is open to viewer interpretation, after all. Instead, “Force of Nature” allows you to question perceptions of art: Where do you start? Where are your eyes drawn? How does the art take up the space it is in?
Shotz’s art invites curiosity from the viewer, a trait that we all could use a little more of in our daily routines, especially in the blisteringly hot Charleston summer.
Her interests also lie in examining multiple fields of study that go beyond the traditional field of art. Like most liberal arts colleges, a combination of all fields of study, rather than just one focus, is encouraged and reflected in the curriculum. Imagine art or literature without an understanding of math or science or vice versa.
Some of the best minds of our time are influenced by the awareness of how all areas of science and art need to work together, hand in hand.
Shotz, who was a visiting professor in the Department of Chemical and Systems Biology at Stanford University, creates contemporary art that will likely appeal to philosophers and engineers alike.
“Force of Nature” will run through July 11 at the Halsey Institute, 161 Calhoun St., and is presented by Hamilton College out of New York and College of Charleston. Admission is free.
Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, except Thursdays, when the gallery is open until 7 p.m. A members-only walk-through is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday with director and senior curator Mark Sloan.
Call 843-953-4422 for details.