Parallax: Framing the Cosmos at the Tang

Exhibition Explores what our Fascination with Outer Space Reveals about Ourselves

On the Cover: NASA, 41-B Onboard Scene of EVA, 1984, color photograph, 7 5/8 x 9 1/8 inches, The Jack Shear Collection of Photography at the Tang Teaching Museum, 2020

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY (September 28, 2022) — The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College announces the opening of a new exhibition, Parallax: Framing the Cosmos, on view from Saturday, October 1, through Sunday, June 19, 2023, with an opening reception on Saturday, October 15.

The work on view spans centuries, from an 1885 photograph of the constellation Cygnus to a 2022 Afrofuturist mixed-media collage by Alisa Sikelianos-Carter, and features textiles, prints, drawings, sculptures, paintings, and photography, including a wealth of NASA press photographs and other work new to the Tang collection being exhibited for the first time. Parallax explores outer space as a backdrop for understanding ourselves, interrogating both individual quests for unique places in space and culturally specific myths, including the US nationalist fantasy of conquering the moon and stars on behalf of “all mankind.”

Parallax presents scientific images from over the centuries alongside recent standout work by contemporary artists such as Lisa Beck, Vija Celmins, Giorgia Lupi, Josiah McElheny, Demetrius Oliver, Katie Paterson, Dario Robleto, Carrie Schneider, and Alisa Sikelianos-Carter, to name a few,” said Dayton Director Ian Berry, a co-curator of the exhibition along with Tang Associate Curator Rebecca McNamara and Skidmore College Associate Professor of English Maggie Greaves. “This interdisciplinary approach is a hallmark of the Tang’s exhibition programming, which is powered by collaborations with Skidmore faculty like the wonderful poet and professor Maggie Greaves.”

“Space exploration has long been a focus of my intellectual and creative work, especially as it relates to poetry,” Greaves said. “This exhibition continues this pursuit in an expanded field of material culture and visual art, which I hope will give visitors what it has given me: an immediate, visceral sense of our place in the cosmos, and the impact the cosmos has had on our cultural expressions. I thank Ian and Rebecca for the opportunity to take this journey together.”

“The term ‘parallax’ describes how an object appears to change position when viewed from different vantage points,” McNamara said. “It is also a metaphor for how we relate to space and to one another here on Earth. The gallery is staged to encourage these ever-shifting perspectives, with artwork moving in and out of sightlines in unexpected ways as you walk around.”

Abelardo Morell, Book of Stars, 1994, gelatin silver print, 20 1/8 x 24 inches, The Jack Shear Collection of Photography at the Tang Teaching Museum, 2015.

Among the work from the Tang collection on view for the first time at the museum are:

  • Russell Crotty’s drawing Milky Way Over Ponderosas, 2001/2004, gift of Peter Norton
  • Jed Lind’s photograph Better to Burnout #2, 2008, gift of Michael O. Gold and Sirje Helder Gold in memory of their beloved son Maximilian Arnold Gold
  • Alice O’Malley’s photograph Vita Kurland, NYC 2004, 2004, Tang purchase
  • Johann Palisa and Max Wolf’s Celestial Charts, 1902 and 1904, The Jack Shear Collection of Photography at the Tang Teaching Museum
  • Anna von Mertens’ textile The Day Without Yesterday, June 18, 1925, Mount Wilson Observatory, California, 2008, purchased with funding from the Susan Rabinowitz Malloy ‘45 Endowed Fund for Emerging Artists, in honor of the Tang Teaching Museum’s former Dayton Director John Weber on the occasion of the museum’s 20th anniversary
  • Demetrius Oliver’s photograph Messier, 2013, purchased with generous funding from Ann Schapps Schaffer ’62 and Melvyn S. Schaffer

Numerous public events are scheduled during the course of the exhibition, including:

  • Saturday, October 1, 2 pm: Mapping the Stars: Students Perform Selections from Silent Sky — Ahead of the production of the play Silent Sky, written by Lauren Gunderson and directed by Skidmore College Assistant Professor of Theater Dennis Schebetta from October 15 to 19 in the Black Box Theater, students will present selections from the play in the exhibition.
  • Thursday, October 6, 6 pm: Dunkerley Dialogue with Sumita Chakraborty and Maggie Greaves — Greaves, a co-curator for Parallax: Framing the Cosmos, will be in discussion with Chakraborty about the poet’s creative and scholarly work on the intersections of outer space, ecology, race, and gender.
  • Saturday, October 15, 2 pm: Celebration Weekend Family Saturday: Celestial Collages — The Tang’s popular Family Saturdays features a drop-in art-making activity open to all during Skidmore College’s Celebration Weekend. Inspired by work on view in Parallax: Framing the Cosmos, participants are invited to create spirograph collages.
  • Saturday, October 15, 4 pm: Celebration Weekend Curator’s Tour of Parallax: Framing the Cosmos — Associate Curator Rebecca McNamara leads a tour.
  • Saturday, October 15, 5 pm: 2022 Fall Opening Reception — Join us for a celebration of our fall exhibitions: Parallax: Framing the CosmosWhere Words Falter: Art and EmpathyLauren Kelley: Location ScoutingCabinet of Queeriosities, and Lotus Shoes: Stories between Stitches.

All events are free and open to the public. For more information, contact the Tang Visitors Services Desk at 518-580-8080 or tang@skidmore.edu, or visit https://tang.skidmore.edu.

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