Denali art exhibit: a brief review

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Tucker Nielsen

The Denali art exhibit is currently being hosted in the A-Space Gallery, located in the garden level of the Rozsa Center.

Tucker Nielsen, Lode Writer

The arts have been sorely absent with the ongoing pandemic. Before Spring 2020, students could attend concerts, plays, and dramatic readings. At a STEM school like Michigan Tech, these experiences are invaluable for promoting the arts. Fortunately, there’s a new art exhibit meant to unite concert music, art, and nature.

On Jan. 22, “DENALI: Artists Respond to Music Inspired by Wilderness” opened in the A-Space Gallery in the basement of the Rozsa Center. The exhibit showcases numerous responses to the Denali National Park in Alaska, whether in music or art. While I didn’t get to see the original concert, I’m fascinated by how wilderness is captured in art. I wanted to see how well this exhibit holds up.

Before attending the exhibit, I would recommend listening to this discussion about the exhibit. It features the curator Terri Frew as she delves into the show. It’s a good introduction before going to the gallery or the online show.

COVID-19 protocol makes the exhibit safe to attend. There’s proper spacing and sanitizer at the entrance. After sanitizing, I was greeted by a table filled with “goodie bags” for visitors to take. These were a thank you for visiting. When I opened mine, it came with a Denali Exhibit booklet, a thank you sticker, and a gluten-free chocolate chip cookie. The bag was a nice gesture from the exhibit and a welcomed surprise.

I noticed plenty of QR codes around the exhibit. These encourage viewers to scan with their phones to experience the concert music per art piece. I lifted my phone up and was immediately taken to a page featuring each song from the orchestra. This added interactivity to the exhibit and saved on playing one song at a time or multiple songs at each work. There is also this prepared playlist of music from the concert. This can also be played while viewing the artwork.

There was a good variety of mediums used for creating the works. One piece featured a swirl of colors on canvas, while another was a row of carved logs. Each medium is used to reflect part of the symphony. In addition, reproduced sheet music for the movement is left out for viewers to leaf through. While I haven’t read sheet music in nearly six years, I appreciated how there’s multiple ways for people to experience the artwork.

For those unable to physically come to the Rozsa Center, there’s an online experience as well! This shows the works as well, with the songs paired with each work. While it might feel static compared to seeing the works in real life, it’s sufficient for those cooped up inside. Each work is shown in vivid detail with its accompanied movement.

The exhibit is worth visiting if you have a craving for art like I do. Michigan Tech has done well with keeping the gallery safe for numerous visitors and not distract from the pieces. QR codes allow viewers more interactivity with the exhibit and setting their own pace enjoying each piece. The virtual exhibit presents the works in a similar manner, with more user interactivity encouraged. Either experience is worth looking at if you enjoy the outdoors and want to see what others think of it.

 The exhibit is currently on display in Gallery A from Jan. 22 to April 17, with the virtual event running the same length. The Rozsa Center has additional information on its website.