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Light, Color and Sound Animate ‘Immersive’ Exhibition at the Des Moines Art Center

Matthew Willie Garcia, “We Carry Space and Time Within Us” (2021), projection mapped animation over acrylic printed and airbrush wood panel, running time: 10 minutes (photo by Eric Salmon / courtesy of the artist)


The Des Moines Art Center responds to audience demand for immersive art with an “experiential exhibition” that flips the switch on the white cube of the conventional gallery.  Instead, the “Immersive” exhibition transforms galleries into linked black boxes animated by light, color and sound.  

“Immersive” features two important time-based media works from the Art Center’s permanent collection as well as new works from multimedia artists in Kansas City and Des Moines. 

Bill Viola is one of the most distinguished video artists in contemporary art. His turn-of-the-21st-century video installation “Ascension” remains as arresting today as a polar plunge. Viola’s work engages the human body with empathy and he masterfully manipulates time, slowing our perception down to meet the depth of movement in his sculptural, larger-than-life imagery.  

 Over the 10-minute work a man jumps into the water; there are bubbles and gravity. In Viola’s hands the event approaches mystical experience.  

New York-based Korean artist Ran Hwang’s “Garden of Water” (2010) is another key work from the collection that combines sculpture, installation and video projection into a dazzling atmospheric chandelier encounter.  

Matthew Willie Garcia ably represents Kansas City with his own installation exploring what he calls “queer quantum mechanics.” Garcia pushes his physical printmaking skills into extra-dimensional fields including projection-mapped animation with entangled screen prints.  

Des Moines-based, Franco-Israeli artist and filmmaker Oyoram scales up his poetic and sensorial environments to encompass another entire gallery.  

With so many demands on our attention, “Immersive” offers an artistic respite, a temporary escape from grim realities. The darkened spaces allow us to recalibrate our senses and take time to enjoy the pleasures of perception. “Immersive” continues through June 5 at the Des Moines Art Center, 4700 Grand Ave., Des Moines. For more information, desmoinesartcenter.org.

Brian Hearn

Brian Hearn is an award-winning curator, arts writer and consultant with 25 years of experience in both the film and fine art industries. He is the collection manager for The Collectors Fund, an innovative fine art investment fund that includes The Kansas City Collection, a rotating corporate art program of exclusively Kansas City arts.

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