Wayne Strattman’s enlightening intersection of science and art
If your summer plans include visiting Boston’s Museum of Science or the city’s Museum of Fine Arts Contemporary Collection, your to-do list just got longer thanks to “Self: Illuminated,” Wayne Strattman’s kinetic plasma sculpture exhibit that opens this weekend at the Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation in Waltham, Mass.
Strattman’s show is a thoughtful study of the human condition through the lens of science and technology. Each piece is a precisely calculated combination of glass tubes, electricity and gases that produces different colors and patterns of light. Other components range from sandblasted Flash Gordon images, Tarot cards and an antique radio to lightning-filled panels that use the same technology Strattman created to light Star Trek’s Borg ship.
“I’m learning about what people are inherently attracted to: movement…and the speed of something,” said Strattman, who has degrees in both psychology and engineering.
“Trivial Encounters” is a 3-foot chess board that encapsulates Strattman’s diverse background and intense exploration of honesty. He said it is “probably the most meaningful of all the pieces in my show.” Its 32 inscribed chess pieces are icons to people his assistant, Renee Dunham, met in the past year. And the subtitle is an apt quote by Søren Kierkegaard, “I feel as if I were a piece in a game of chess, when my opponent says of it: That piece cannot be moved.”
Strattman is a self-taught artist who began creating light art 25 years ago while working as an engineer. Since then, he has written a seminal reference book “Neon Techniques” and founded a design studio; he is also the co-chair of the Glass Art Society’s 43rd annual conference that will take place next summer in Boston.
Part philosopher, part scientist, part social artist—Strattman’s work is thought-provoking, enigmatic and candid, with enough levity and “cool” to inspire light-seekers of all ages.
The complete exhibit will consist of 10 installations and be on display July 15, 2012, through Jan. 15, 2013.
The museum is hosting a free opening reception today, July 13, 2012, from 7 to 9 p.m.
Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation
[All photos by Bill Foley of Ignition Pictures]