NIU Art museum sets sights on the invisible

By Heather Skrip

DeKALB | Come see the invisible.

One of the newest exhibits at the NIU Art Museum, “in/VISIBLE: Hiding in Plain Sight,” seeks to create an entirely different experience for each individual.

“Contemporary artists explore the nature of place as both a physical presence and an evocative mood,” according to the exhibit’s description.

Six artists are featured – all with different mediums and purposes.

Margot Balboni displays breathtaking landscapes with her prints. These images seem almost picturesque of America’s open land is supposed to look like.

Interaction is required for Amy Caterina’s “this used to be real estate and now it’s only fields and trees.” The constant changes in the environment are presented through various means in this mixed media installation.

Jo Burke, director of the NIU Art Museum, pointed out that Caterina’s work is an example of the fact that things are constantly changing in our environment, but it becomes a matter of whether we realize it or not.

“Art focuses and brings your attention,” Burke said.

Ethan Jackson’s contributions also required direct participation on the part of the viewer. A screen in the front of the gallery reacts with noise and movement, while a setup in another room requires one to look at the images from different angles to see a beautiful scene.

Burke said she believes that the screen plays with the idea that we impact our landscapes and surroundings.

ARTLab students were able to work with Jackson on the camera obscura that shows an image of outside Altgeld Hall, yet it is constantly changing due to the elements.

Nina Rizzo’s vivid oil paintings instantly grab attention. This is especially true of the large painting of Niagara Falls in all its colorful splendor.

Deeper meanings are plentiful in Hazel Walker’s oil panels. According to the exhibit’s description, the works “evoke both [loneliness and intimacy] at once.”

Michelle Wasson’s paintings are rich in color and theme, but may require a second look to grasp everything.

“I have selected these works, and used them as an opportunity to consider what is invisible, what is outside or behind or underneath the image,” said Karen Brown, associate professor of art and curator of the exhibit, in the brochure.

The over-arching idea of what is invisible to an apathetic eye extends to the Hall Case Gallery as well. Students were asked to explore the idea.

“They’re very different, but so is the theme,” Burke said.

“in/VISIBLE” can be viewed in the South Galleries until March 11. As always, admission into the NIU Art Museum is free.