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A sculpture featured in the LACUNA exhibit at the Kennedy Museum of Art on September 7, 2021.

Two OU professors explore ‘the space in between’ through 'LACUNA' art exhibit

A lacuna is an empty space, a gap. It is a missing part of a book. In medical situations, lacuna refers to a cavity or a depression. 

“I've been interested in this idea of the ‘in between’ or the liminal space that is sort of a(t the) root of creativity,” C. David Russell, an OU professor and artist, said. “From the void emerges something.”

Inspired by lacuna’s meanings, Russell, along with another OU professor and artist, Mateo Galvano, created an art exhibit, LACUNA, to explore life’s “in-betweens” through visual art and theatrical expressions.

Currently at the Kennedy Museum of Art, LACUNA is on display until March 6, 2022. Admission is free. 

Although this is the exhibition’s first iteration in Ohio, Galvano and Russell debuted LACUNA at an art museum in New Mexico a few years ago. The time between the two exhibitions has allowed the artists to refine their vision of viewers’ experiences in the museum.

“There's stillness in this space, but also a kind of graceful sort of flowing sense of movement that happens in the exhibition,” Galvano said. “So, what we are looking for is to create a space that is … contemplative and maybe quiet. Even though there's sound in there, the attitude of the work is not chaotic or harsh.”

Galvano and Russell hope that people will take time to immerse themselves in the LACUNA exhibition and to explore stillness and movement; presence and absence; and quiet and noise through artistic forms.

“It's great when you have elements like sound and moving image that can change and create that experience,” Russell said.

The designed atmosphere of the gallery space at the Kennedy Museum also furthers viewers’ interpretations of the art.

“Inside the exhibit, the lights are sort of dim,” Galvano said. “It's not as bright as it might normally be in a gallery or exhibition space. And I think that does add to a feeling of a safe(ty), kind of quiet place to be in, because of what's raging outside in the world.”

In addition to the dim lighting of the gallery, several of the featured artworks incorporate aspects of light to portray lacuna. At the heart of the installation is a stop-motion film, featuring a “Bramble Puppet,” that is projected onto a translucent white sheet.

Russell, who has been drawn to puppets and puppetry for his whole life, used the “Bramble Puppet” video as an experiment. He tried to convey emotion through film as intensely as he feels puppets do when presented in-person.

“In the film, this figure creates this hole, and goes down this hole, and has this experience that emerges from the void, tumbles on the wind and then dissolves into nothing,” Russell said

A few pieces of art in the exhibit also incorporate light that shines through gaps in the gallery’s floor, relating to LACUNA’s theme.

“This ‘Crevasse’ piece is like a crack in the Earth,” Galvano said. “It's on the floor of this room and light is shining up through that area, so it's sort of indicating that there is a void, there's something missing in the floor. But what occurs through that void is that light comes through there. Maybe that kind of shows some idea of something occurring underneath the surface of things that is really fascinating.”

Courtney Ramey, a student employee at the Kennedy Museum of Art, said that she enjoys the uniqueness of LACUNA.

“It's very different than anything I've seen that we've had here at the Kennedy,” Ramey said.

LACUNA is on display at the Kennedy Museum of Art through March 6, 2022. The museum’s reception for Galvano and Russell’s fall exhibition is on Sept. 24, 2021 from 6:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. LACUNA is able to be viewed from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on weekdays, Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. on weekends.


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