Magazine article Sculpture

Nancy Selvage

Magazine article Sculpture

Nancy Selvage

Article excerpt

BOSTON

Nancy Selvage

Boston Sculptors Gallery

The retinal dazzle of Op Art came and went decades ago-as with many fads, it caught the eye, and then there seemed little more to say. But here it is again, mobile and in three dimensions, in the metal work of Nancy Selvage. This time, it appears to have many more possibilities. Selvage's medium of choice is perforated aluminum screening, variously used for filters, vents, acoustic panels, and guardrails.

Unlike the color theorists behind two-dimensional Op Art, Selvage works in black and white, but her visual tricks are even more dynamic. With carefully calculated spacing, she layers screening to create moiré effects. Shifting perspectives reveal illusive, and elusive, ephemeral motifs. As the viewer changes location (or as the mobile moves), patterns shiftand segue into bull'seyes, ripples, polka dots, pinstripes, tweed patterns, tiny soccer balls, or rows of stars. LED lights, carefully positioned within most of the pieces, are themselves visually fragmented by screening.

Two outsized works dominated Selvage's recent show. Navigration (not a typo-it's meant to suggest the unexplained navigational abilities of migrating creatures) is a thunderous wall piece, perhaps a whale, perhaps a bird, intensely subtle and throbbing with variations. Photophilia, the only mobile in the show, may be read as a moth or butterfly; because it moves, its optical pulsations are a little harder to pin down. A quarter-scale version is somehow more easily apprehended. …

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