Radial Gallery’s Newest Exhibition Fuses Art, Science, History

Chey Ward
A&E Section Editor

Spotty sounds from far-away places, vintage artifacts from a time when the world was a simpler place and minimalist prints of abstract forms–these are the things that will arrest your senses when you first step into the Radial Gallery’s latest exhibition: Contact.

Science, art and history collide on the second floor of Fitz Hall, where the space has been transformed to feature two complementary bodies of work by Christine Zuercher and Janelle Young. This collection is anything but ordinary as it features three dimensional space artifacts, a short wave radio and a space suit.

Zuecher was a part of the 2011 graduating class and is now giving back to our community by sharing some of her most recent work. The featured artwork portrays Zuercher’s passion for space and her alternative photography techniques. She was happy to return to the place that first inspired her to create to talk with students about the meaning behind her collection.

UD served as the foundation for Zuercher’s artistic career. While living in Dayton, she became fascinated with flight and the Wright Brothers. She finds the idea of airplanes miraculous and was known on campus as the girl who waved up at airplanes as they flew overhead.

When the time came to venture away from Dayton, Zuercher continued to be inspired by flight, but also picked up an interest in short wave radios. She explained that it helped her feel connected with people as she dealt with the anxieties that come along with transitioning to a new chapter in life.

While flight and white noise are both themes found in her many beautiful prints, one cannot help but be almost immediately drawn to the huge space suit in the center of the gallery. Zuercher clarified that while the suit was on display as if it were a work of art, it is actually her own personal garb. In fact, she and her space suit are the subject of many of the prints that are on display. Zuercher explained that she dons the suit and sets up a camera to capture photos of herself in it.

The photos are reminiscent of those that would usually be overlooked because they are out of focus or blurry. Zuercher stated that she intentionally distorts the quality of the photos in the initial stage when they are taken as well as when she is processing them. This decision symbolizes her belief that photographs don’t always capture the truth of the past–often they distort how we think about history.

While her work does prompt viewers to question their beliefs about the past, they are also meant to bring lightness and joy. Technology can often be seen as scary or intimidating, but it is also the product of inspiration and knowledge. Zuercher wanted to remind everyone that was there to support her and the exhibition to appreciate what humans have done, but to not take ourselves too seriously.

Stepping into this exhibition is a complete sensory experience–gallery coordinator, Nick Arnold and his team have put together an exhibition that truly makes one feel as if they’ve simultaneously stepped forward into the future and backward into the past. If you find yourself on the second floor of Fitz Hall follow the faint sounds of the short wave radio and experience Contact.

The Radial Gallery’s hours are Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The exhibition will remain until Nov. 1.

Flyer News: Univ. of Dayton's Student Newspaper