Gallery Exhibit: Persistence of Vision, Colleen Woolpert

Colleen -4

Gallery at the Ann Felton Multicultural Center
March 2 - April 14, 2015
Monday - Friday, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Artist Reception: Monday, March 2, 11:15 a.m. - Noon; Artist Talk @11:30am

Persistence of Vision originated in late 2012 with my experiences working with visually impaired adults while living in Seattle. Moments after meeting a stranger, I was walking arm and arm with her in that trusting intimacy that develops when touch and voice stand in for sight, when she suddenly said, ‘I miss looking at the night sky most of all.’ I wondered why she yearned for blackness studded with mystery, a spectral dissonance I assumed to be the condition of those without sight. Her statement seemed a profound metaphor, leading me outdoors on many nights to glance at the enormous telescope on my neighbor’s patio and then follow it’s gaze upward, toward that “great unknown.”

From that initial inspiration, I began to research blindness, astronomy and space exploration, which opened up many more questions and associations. For instance, visualization is largely a mental process. “Persistence of vision” is a term related to cinema that describes how the mind perceives a series of successive action photographs as continuous motion. I borrow the term to suggest other ideas: for people with visual impairments, it applies to mind’s eye imaging, as well as the experience of those who see continual static as the retina attempts to form an image. Persistence of vision is also what allows “people in the dark” (to use Hellen Keller’s expression) to venture from the relative safety of home into the unknown dangers of the outside world. For astronomers who keep vigil at their telescopes on cold winter nights, it is a wish to discover that which no one else has seen before. And for artists and inventors, it is the process required to shape nebulous ideas into clarity and tangible form.