Art and science collide in KANEKO’s “light” exhibit

The KANEKO gallery’s current exhibit, “light,” explores the use of lighting and interactivity in art. Photo by Danielle Meadows

By Danielle Meadows

Pieces from 12 artists shine inside KANEKO, a gallery space that’s known for being unconventional.

The newest exhibit inside the 60,000-square-foot building contains much more than routine paintings and sculptures. Instead, the featured artists have used light to evoke a beautiful, mysterious aesthetic and theme throughout. Combined creatively with awareness into scientific issues like vision and optics, light pollution/conservation, sustainability and the physiology of light energy;“light” allows visitors to explore the connections between art and science.

Emily Speck, a lead gallery attendant at KANEKO, said the exhibits are planned one to two years in advance. The non-profit hosts a new exhibit each season, along with a variety of creative events sprinkled throughout the year. While the gallery has a suggested donation, there is no charge to see exhibits like “light.”The affordability has made the space a unique staple for families and students.

We think of Joslyn as very high art, but KANEKO is great because it’s for everyone,” Speck said. “It’s not only a gallery, but a center for creativity, so it’s not stereotypical art.”

A big part of the exhibition is audience participation and movement. From enormous sculptures that bathe guests in soft,radiant shades to psychedelic rooms with mirrored walls and ceilings, “light” brings something different at every turn.Walking around the exhibit, many notice that nearly every section is perfect for a photo opportunity.

“We’ve had so many people because it’s such an ‘instagrammable’ exhibit, which draws a lot of attention,” Speck said.

One of the most popular spots for guests to take out their cameras is the Infinity Room. The piece is by Turkish artist Refik Anadol, known for using data to create immersive sculptural and performative installations. The Infinity Room is a small space, with attendants only allowing a few in at a time. Once the door shuts, a video of kaleidoscopic black and white patterns projects onto the walls. These patterns reflect off the mirrored floor and ceiling, allowing for a mesmerizing experience.

KANEKO completely modified their space to accommodate the concept of “light.”There are no visible windows due to the risk for natural lighting, which would take away from the atmosphere of the exhibit. The gallery is dimly lit so every piece can shine individually.

Artist collaborative Circus Factory came all the way from the Netherlands to install their massive pieces. Originally created for the annual South by Southwest festival, the instillation is a futuristic Stonehenge of light sculptures—some towering over 12 feet. Color gradients fill the geometric mirrored shapes, creating a surreal combination of structure and shade that make guests feel small.

“Enunciation,” a piece by Taylor Dean Harrison, is a metal structure filled with 3,500 LED lights made to look likestained glass. Once inside the cocoon-like construction, it’s like being in a different world—one filled with intricate shapes, lines and vibrant color. Much of the “light” exhibit feels otherworldly and obscure, an unexpected and fascinating treasure for the Omaha art scene.

Those with light sensitivities should be advised if attending the exhibit, as many of the instillations use intense visual light stimulation effects. KANEKO is located at 1111 Jones St., open from 12 to 8 p.m.Tuesday through Friday and 5p.m.on Saturdays. “light” will be on display until March 31.