Bemis Center For Contemporary Arts

Leslie Iwai, Chambers: Gleaning in Cracks of Light

Gallery 3
A web site transmits anonymous confessions, a computer acting as a silent, impassive receptor for highly emotional expressions of sorrow and remorse. An artist transcribes these confessions, transforming the heaviness of grief into light expressions of relief, hope and joy. It’s an intriguing idea, one that Omaha artist Leslie Iwai explores as the first recipient of the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts’ Community Artist Fellowship. The Bemis Center celebrates Iwai’s work in the special solo exhibition "Chambers: Gleaning in Cracks of Light" on view June 10 – August 13, 2005. An Opening Reception takes place Friday, June 10th, from 7:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. The artist will also give a Gallery Talk the following day, Saturday, June 11th, at 12:00 noon, to discuss her compelling work. Both events are free, and the public is warmly invited to attend.

Through her work, Iwai explores the formation of space as an experiential event, either through scale or internal complexity. The Art Director for the Hope Center for Kids and an adjunct professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Fine Arts Department, the sculptor and installation artist creates careful compositions characterized by situations where shape, color and material all merge to form gentle, harmonic balances. Iwai is trained as an architect, and her work often exists between architecture and sculpture. Last year, she garnered widespread media attention for of her serene Sounding Stone, an Omaha Public Art Commission in Turner Park. Most recently, the Bemis Center selected Iwai for its Community Artist Fellowship, a biannual award designed to recognize the talent of local artists who contribute to the community through their work. This year, Karen and Robert Duncan are sponsoring the award, which provides free studio space, access to Bemis Center facilities and equipment as well as a stipend of $1,000. The total grant package, which culminates in a special exhibition of the chosen artist’s new body of work, is valued at $4,000.

In "Chambers: Gleaning in Cracks of Light," the artist functions as gatherer, conduit and transformer of confessions of grief and pain. Iwai utilizes the dove, iconic for its inherent, powerful symbolism, as a visual and tactile means with which to communicate the context of her three-part progressive performance installation. Using the internet admissions as the starting point, Iwai transcribes these confessions onto red rose petals – one word per petal – and inserts them into the hollow bellies of approximately seven hundred doves. Gathered into a tight flock, these doves are installed on a floor lit from below, each one held aloft by a clear water glass. Slivers of light break through the crevices formed by their bodies’ edges, with the doves appearing to float, transcending the pain they literally and figuratively embody. During the course of the installation, the public is invited to participate in a "releasing" ceremony, which will be announced at a later date. This ceremony will juxtapose the dove's simultaneous representation of pain and peace. Iwai will release the doves from one of the Bemis Center’s upper story windows. Guilt and pain will be born aloft metaphorically, soaring into the heavens before alighting again back to earth. After gathering the broken bodies and scattered crimson petals, the artist will bandage them back together using crimson cheesecloth to construct the form of a human heart. These broken but mended hearts will reappear on the floor where light will shine even more brightly through the cracks and fissures.

Throughout its run, Leslie Iwai’s three-part exhibition "Chambers: Gleaning in Cracks of Light" will function alternately as sculpture, installation and performance. The resulting artistic trinity transmits, transcribes and transforms guilt into atonement, pain into joy, fragility into wholeness. Join us at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts for this entirely unique, enlightening and uplifting exhibition.

Opening Reception: Friday, June 10, 7:00 – 10:00 p.m.

Performance Dates:
June 11 @ 12:30 p.m.

Saturday, July 9 @ 12:30 p.m

Saturday, August 6 @ 12:30 p.m.

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Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts
724 South 12th Street
Omaha, NE 68102
Admission and Parking: FREE
Phone:: 402.341.7130