A swirl of handprinted wallpaper, relief and monoprint elements will envelop visitors to the Akron Art Museum's Judith Bear Isroff Gallery through Jan. 3, 2016.
"Specter," an installation by Charles Beneke offers both pleasure in its surface decoration and a stark reminder of humanity's penchant for excess and its impact. Beneke, a Professor and Printmaking Area Coordinator at the University of Akron's Mary Schiller Myers School of Art, is a printmaker and installation artist whose work is visually stunning as well as challenging in asking viewers to confront the ecological crises that we face.
Rather than presenting his prints framed or in bound volumes for intimate viewing, Beneke's work fans out over wall surfaces and into space. In "Specter," representational patterns of vegetation influenced by sources ranging from Drer prints to the artist's garden morph into abstract patterns. These in turn project from the wall into space, accumulating in a figurative parallel of the human-made accumulation of carbon and greenhouse gas that endangers the planet.
Chief Curator Janice Driesbach describes "Specter" as "the culmination of a series of works Beneke has created over the past several years that address the fragility of our natural environment and seek to have a positive effect." She notes that the artist's ongoing interest in challenging himself with increasingly complex installations, and the priority he places on creating a dialogue with the viewer. In "Specter" visitors are encouraged to reflect upon and modify their actions with Trade Your Carbon for Art, a component of the exhibition in which viewers may take a print in return for a pledge to reduce their personal carbon footprint.
In conjunction with "Specter" Beneke is maintaining a website with installation updates, news articles about climate change and related current events, and continued dialogue about the exhibition at http://charlesbeneke.com.
The Akron Art Museum will host a free reception for a gallery talk by Beneke on Sept. 13 at 2 p.m.
The Akron Art Museum is at One South High in downtown Akron. For details, call 330-376-9185 or visit www.akronartmuseum.org online.