Curator: Ellen Curlee
Artists: Larry Emerson and Byron Sletten
The exhibition Origins: Natural Selections presents the photographs, mixed media, and video installations of Larry Emerson and Byron Sletten. Curated by Ellen Curlee, the show explores the beauty that exists within the mysteries of the world around us.
“We are, by nature curious. We are interested in explaining how things work and revealing the layers beneath.” says Sletten. The mysteries and wonder that arise from human discovery is what these artists have set out to highlight. For them, this wonder can be most greatly encountered in the everyday details and through this we can find true appreciation for the world around us. “This show is about what we see, can’t see or often just miss – right before us.”
Uniting these artistic visions was an exciting challenge for curator Ellen Curlee. “During the selection process, we paid special attention to the content, shapes and colors in their images to ensure a visually cohesive show” says Curlee. Understanding the artists’ strong intention for the show, she united the unique qualities of their individual styles. “By looking at their work and asking them questions I simply helped them develop their exhibition concept and select images to illustrate their ideas.”
A Native New Yorker, Emerson began his photographic career as a biomedical photographer in NYC. After moving to St. Louis 1977 he cultivated a career as a business development executive in marketing communications and later advertising. In 2007 he would turn back to photography by founding The Art Around You, producing images meant to help audiences view the world from a unique perspective.
Larry Emerson’s work focuses on discovering the natural world. In his photographic images, Emerson takes particular interest in the areas of life often overlooked. In his words, “My focus as an artist entails two things: a subject, usually something ordinary, and then turning it upside down by interpreting it differently.”
Originating from a fine arts background, Sletten’s work has evolved into a convergence between traditional media and high tech digital imagery. This began with his experiments in digital technology while teaching at the School of Art and Design at the University of Illinois. Sletten would leave the academic world to pursue a career as a creative agent, expanding his experience with new technology.
Both his fine art and digital influence can be seen in his current work, consisting of computer generated renderings focused on scientific images and the natural world. In Sletten’s eyes “Both art and science are infused with this sense of curiosity and sense of wonder.” The associations between art and science are a central theme in Sletten’s work. With scientific progression come new mysteries that need to be broken down. He believes that art can often be a great form of expression to throw light upon these new discoveries.
The collaboration of these three is witnessed in the cohesive themes of Origins: Natural Selections. The exhibition challenges audiences to observe the world in a new way and discover the mysteries found in new perspectives. Viewers find an appreciation for the minute details and the great significance they hold. “It comes from a sense of wonder or wonderment about the universe around us.”
Origins: Natural Selections opens at RAC on Friday, October 25 from 5:30 – 8:30pm and is free and open to the public. Curator and artists will give a gallery talk on Wednesday, November 13 from 5:30 – 7:00pm. The exhibition continues through Saturday, December 21.