On Show: Seeing the Stars (and Planets) at the Tang Education Museum in Skidmore


Saratoga Spring – The latest exhibition to open at the Tang Education Museum at Skidmore College invites viewers to step into the space.

With a fun display of photos from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, along with 19th-century prints of cosmos-inspired contemporary towers and works, it’s a trip well worth taking.

Called The View: Framing the Universe, the exhibition uses outer space as a basis for exploring what is universal and what is special. The term parallax refers to the way an object can appear to change position when viewed from different points. In Tang, he also refers to the idea that no two cultures or people share the same “universal” views.

Upon entering the Wachenheim Gallery, it’s hard to miss the planet hanging from the ceiling at eye level. Wrapped around the silver ball are the dark silhouettes of the trees, extending from the dark lower half of the piece. Created by Russell Crotty’s “The Milky Way Over Ponderosas,” it’s a fitting introduction to the show.

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Furthermore, there is a set of blue and white patterns depicting a solar eclipse, displayed in a wooden box, with the words “unbundled sun” engraved in a mirror at the back of the box. The small print, created by Dario Robleto, is based on astronomers’ historical drawings of solar eclipses and is at once charming and gloomy.

“. . . . asked myself, is it possible for the sun to think of its youth? . . . I wanted to use the current energy of the sun to allow it to copy an image of itself centuries ago on paper. In this way, both the past and the present are in the images,” Robleto wrote. In an artist statement.

At the center of the gallery is a towering NASA press photo wall that spans from 1959 to 2002. There are shots of astronauts in their suits, politicians gathering and distant views of Earth and the Moon.

Some of the shots are breathtaking, including those showing the swirling blue, green, and white Earth, or those showing paratroopers about to descend into a super blue ocean, a distant horizon merging with the water.

However, the collective effect of the images is not just awe. It is a reminder of the ripple effects of the United States’ push to be the first to explore (and in some cases invade) outer space under the guise that it is all on behalf of “all mankind”. It is also a reminder that space exploration affects not only the scientific community but also the political community and narratives about the United States.

Not too far from NASA images are celestial charts from the early 20th century that reflect the work of European astronomers Johann Balesa and Max Wolf, who helped develop the first photographic atlas of the stars.

“Parallax” also includes tapestries, documentary photography, and painting, many of which are modern Tang dynasty collectibles. It’s on show next year (June 19, 2023, to be exact) but go today at 2pm and you’ll get a ride with Rebecca McNamara.
Other exhibits on display at the museum include “Where Words Stumble: Art and Empathy” and “Lauren Kelly: Exploring the Site.”

Hosting premieres for playwrights

Next Thursday, October 27, the museum will host the premieres of newly commissioned works in progress by playwrights Lanxing Fu, Julia May Jonas and Andrew Rincón in response to “Where Words Falter”.

The three new works will be performed at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Skidmore College students from the Department of Theater will perform under the supervision of Skidmore faculty, artist-in-residence Tisha Duncan, visiting assistant professor Ji Won Geun and Hetty Dance Lecturer. Barnhill.

The exhibition presents photography, painting, textiles, and motion pictures from Tang’s collection to explore the ways in which art can support empathy. The collaboration between Tang and Skidmore’s Department of Theater is organized by Tang Associate Curator Rebecca McNamara, curator, and Lisa Jackson-Schebetta, associate professor and chair of the theater department.

“When Rebecca first told me about the show and how it explores ideas of empathy, image, and physical experience, I was immediately inspired because theater and performance also grapple with these complex aspects of meaning-making,” said Jackson-Chipita. “I am delighted to be able to invite these respected playwrights to work with our students and faculty to present something new, surrounded by the amazing and thought-provoking work of the exhibition. This was a great opportunity to learn and explore together, and one we are now expanding to the wider community.”

Presentations are free to attend. Reservations are not required. Masks are optional. For more information visit tang.skidmore.edu.

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