Norton Center art exhibit invites visitors to “Rohm”

Posted by Centre News in Academics, Art History, News 16 May 2017

Through generous gifts from the Karp Family and the O.K. Harris Gallery in New York City, Centre College’s Norton Center for the Arts is hosting the exhibition, “Rohming Around: Untitled Works by Robert Rohm,” through June 2017. The exhibit of five abstract totemic sculptures were curated by art history major Mackenzie Nichols ’17 as her senior seminar thesis, under the mentorship of Associate Professor of Art History Jay Bloom.

The Rohm sculptures in the exhibit are anthropomorphic, meant to resemble the human figure in shape and size, and are constructed of steel, mesh and encaustic, a type of pigment mixed with hot wax—very non-traditional materials for sculpture. Rohm, whose artistic career spanned five decades, used these materials as a way to set apart his modern and abstract work from the more traditional sculptures of bronze or marble.

“These sculptures are meant to be viewed in-the-round,” Nichols says. “In order for you to have a full and complete experience engaging with them, you must walk around them completely and look at them part by part.

“The works are pushed out from the walls and under track lighting to allow viewers to ‘Rohm’ around without worrying about hurting themselves or the precious works,” she continues.

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Nichols worked on the exhibit for most of the spring semester and admits that not all of her visions for displaying the artworks were a success. In the end, each piece is surrounded by a ring of light shining down from above, which seems to complement the late artist’s intent, as explained to Nichols by his wife, Candy Adriance.

“Ask for quiet, let the audience figure it out,” Adriance says. “He had always said that he wasn’t going to tell people how to figure it out; the work needs to stand on its own.”

Nichols’ innovative ideas for the exhibit include hanging chalk boards on the wall behind each piece. Visitors are encouraged to think about the questions developed by the curator that appear on the boards and write their answers as a means of engaging and interacting with the spirit of the artworks.

The exhibit is free and open to the public 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Monday through Friday, as well as by appointment and when the Norton Center is open for concerts and related activities.

by Cindy Long
May 16, 2017

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