Prepositional Art: Crystal Wagner at the FWMoA

When I was in school I was taught the different parts of speech by a humorless (in retrospect, underpaid and exhausted) English teacher who reminded me over and over (I was not the pointiest crayon in the box) that prepositions show where something is located or in which direction it is moving. “The little dog is walking IN the doghouse, the little dog is walking UNDER the dog house, and the little dog is walking THROUGH the dog house.” A recent trip to the Fort Wayne Museum of Art brings the little dog to mind when I look at Crystal Wagner’s two story installation piece, “Spire”.

The work is a riot of color and shape that stretches from the wide base to the topmost tendrils. It invades your space, or maybe you are the invader. Installation Art has, almost by definition, always expected more of viewers than traditional 2 dimensional works and Crystal’s new site specific piece continues and amps up that truth. You need to engage in all the prepositions with this one; the little viewer is walking IN the installation art, the little viewer is walking UNDER the installation art, etc. This takes time, the art is durational and to truly experience it, you must immerse yourself in the experience. It takes moments of your time to walk around, through, under and into the room and its contents. If you are dead inside and only care to stare blankly at the spectacle, you will not be disappointed, but why not take a gamble and move your body in the many ways of the venerable preposition?

Wagner spent 2 weeks organizing and executing the sensory experience. She insists that it could not exist anywhere else in the world but in this room, (Gallery 3 in the Fort Wayne Museum of Art) at this time (until October 23rd, 2016). Paroxysm: A New Body of Work by Crystal Wagner, curated by Josef Zimmerman. Fort Wayne Museum of Art, 311 Main Street, Fort Wayne, IN

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