January 23, 2019
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By Savannah Delgross

Special to The Denisonian

If you visited the Denison Museum last week, you would have seen the walls decorated with black and white pieces varying in size and texture. The works might’ve seemed ambiguous and lured your attention. You might have even tilted your head, squinted your eyes and tried to view the images with a little more introspection.

If you did this, then you achieved Sage Lewis’ goal. The Ohio State graduate, who recently completed a 10-month Artist in Residence Fellowship at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, has brought her talent of showing power in ambiguity to Denison. The collection, titled “Material Inference,” lets its abstractness guide the viewer’s personal experience.

“I do want the viewer to be a little disoriented and unsure of what they are looking at. This opens up the question of ‘What is being pictured?’ and I would like to provide clues and visual references, but there is no singular answer and no right or wrong way to draw meaning from these images,” Lewis said.

While the purpose is to let the viewers be uncertain of the meanings of the works, Lewis is just as eager to develop her own questions.

Lewis is personally inspired by the uncertainties in life and the never-ending quest for knowledge. “I look at examples of architecture as a structure that embodies aspects of strength and stability as well as the potential for weakness and failure,” she said.

Lewis  uses architectural imagery by carefully constructing small architectural models of paper and then crushing them. Different sides of the same structure reveal completely divergent views.

Part of what makes the exhibition so unique is its lack of color. “Black and white are each opposite ends of the value scale and when brought together, they create a high point of contrast that attracts the eye as a focal point. In some works, this is important because I want the work to be seen from across the room and to draw the viewer in to look closer,” Lewis said.

In the future, we might have to start looking at her work even more closely. The artist is determined to experiment with taking pictures and scans of the surface of the desert and printing them on fabric. She wants to dye the printed fabric, as well as paint over the prints.

Her travels to London, India, Nepal and the Gulf region keep the artist motivated to question the role of an artist. “It is often malleable and multi-faceted, and it is essential to consider the life that a work of art has beyond the studio, as well as what it means to be practicing in a particular corner of the world,” she said.

Lewis will be at the closing reception of the exhibition at the Denison Museum this evening from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Photo Courtesy of Savannah Delgross

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