Eclipse, Greensboro

Visions of Totality: Area Artists Share Eclipse Perspectives

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Viiu Niiler, Solar Transit, a Celestial Crossroads II, Visions of Totality, Highland Center for the Arts.

GREENSBORO – While other publications and media outlets are bringing you science to explain the total eclipse of the sun on April 8, the Gazette is choosing to share the perspective of artists living in the towns we cover. These works, at Greensboro’s Highland Center for the Arts, are a part of the exhibit, “Visions of Totality.”

The gallery will be open on Monday, April 8, from noon on, for the eclipse.

The sun will be completely blocked as the moon passes between it and the earth. Broad daylight will suddenly darken, temperatures will drop, and birds will quiet as the sun’s corona flickers around a blackened disk.

Many predict that the total solar eclipse may provoke, and evoke, strong reactions from people. Indeed, history tells of people looking up in shock, and sometimes fear, during an eclipse.

An ancient Chinese myth describes the eclipse as a dragon eating the sun. Ancient Mediterranean cultures believed eclipses to be an omen of the death of a king. People wonder if an eclipse is a portal to renewal – or a portent of doom? Although science may now explain these celestial events, the awe they inspire remains. The eclipse is a reminder of our small place in the vast universe.

Gabriel Tempesta, Wolcott,

First Hard Frost Sunrise,” 2024, watercolor on board. Looking through hundreds of old photos for reference that had some semblance to “light bending” I settled on this image where the ice clinging to every fibrous piece of plant matter caught the rising sun’s rays and magnified it beautifully. I chose to use a technique where I carved into the surface to remove the black watercolor paint which made for crisper, more ice-like edges than if I had painted the lines in.

Thirty-eight artists accepted the Highland Center for the Arts invitation to share their Visions of Totality. They provide evidence that, despite the science, we still need to create stories to personalize the images we encounter. With paint, ink, paper, clay, wood, metal and found materials, they tell their stories.

Adelaide Murphy Tyrol shares the idea that “the solar eclipse affords a window into a momentarily skewed view of the world that blinks back at us — a world that is mutable, shifting between verity and illusion”

There is reverence, humor, attention to science and detail, contemplation and thoughtfulness – and pure gut reaction, presented here. Similar approaches are presented in very different styles. Some surprising approaches are presented in familiar styles.

Adelaide Murphy Tyrol, Marshfield, “OCULUS,” 2024, aluminum paint on metal, leather with glass overlay and rivets: Pedestal piece, glass. This piece is driven by the attempt to understand the refraction and visual shifting that happens during a solar eclipse. The rivets represent the anchoring of data – the lower left rivet stands in for the earth, the lower right rivet represents the actual location of a star and the upper right rivet represents the apparent location of that star seen from earth during a solar eclipse; an optical phenomenon.

Kathy Stark, Craftsbury Common, “Happening Somewhere Else,” 2024, rice paper mounted on wood panel. Kathy’s work explores the manipulation of the surface through the use of pattern, color, density and repetition.

Jan Brough, East Calais, “Night Hawks,” 1/2024, oil on canvas. Apparently birds that are normally active at night may come out during an eclipse and exhibit unusual flight patterns.

Susan Wahlrab, Calais, “Wonder,” 2023, varnished watercolor on archival clayboard. Events like this are a reminder that we are but a small planet in a vast universe. Wonder is painted from the perspective of being very tiny and looking up through a dandelion in full seed. The center is blocking the sun with the seeds of creation in all directions. A reminder of the fragility and magnitude of the natural world.

“Visions of Totality: Thirty-eight Artists Interpret the Total Solar Eclipse,” is on view at the Highland Center for the Arts, 2875 Hardwick Street, Greensboro, Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 4 p.m., through April 21, plus Monday, April 8, from noon on, for the eclipse. Maureen O’Connor Burgess is the curator.

Paul Fixx is editor of The Hardwick Gazette and lives in Hardwick.

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