Rachel Zheng’s transparent filament exhibition #ffffff up until Sept. 15 at Steel House Projects

An art exhibit you can barely see

Mon, 08/27/2018 - 1:30pm

    ROCKLAND—Depending on the light of day, if you pass through the upper gallery of Steel House Projects, your eyes may take in a completely empty room.

    Look again. There is an art installation all around you.

    Rachel Lee Zheng, 24, has created a sculptural installation of filament that stretches in precise static lines across both sides of the room. Called #ffffff (which is the  hex color code for ‘white’) the exhibit’s white and transparent filament has an ephemeral quality that makes it virtually invisible. In fact, it’s worth taking a lunch break to pop into Steel House before it’s taken down on September 15.

    The exhibition opened on Sept. 4, when several people almost ran right into it, prompting Steel House staff to have to provide human barriers to the exhibit so that people didn’t accidentally get wrapped up into it.

    “The phrase I like to use is a geometric arrangement of static lines that interrupts physical space,” said Zheng, a recipient of the 2018 Emerging Artist Award sponsored by the St. Botolph Club Foundation in Boston. “First, I made sketches of lines on transparency paper and layered them to see what different arrangement of lines would look like in the gallery,” she said. “Then, I had to measure out the various lengths and heights of the architecture to see where I wanted the lines to be arranged across the space. I wanted it to look clean and simple and somewhat asymmetrical when it was finished. In the end, I wanted to create something that wasn’t touchable or tangible, but something beautiful that you interact with nonetheless.”

    Once the eyes adjust, to the right side of the room, there is a certain “movement” to the static lines. It’s not so much what the eye is seeing, but what the mind is taking in trying to fill in the negative space of those lines.

    On the left side of the room, the window by the entryway becomes the basis of a simple trapezoid made of filament lines, so that the eye has to “construct” the box out of nothing. A dichroic, which is a square of color changing film, has been positioned on the right side of the room and was matched by an identical square of negative space painted on the opposite wall. Again, it is barely noticeable until you stand and really take in the entire thing for a few minutes.

    Zheng, who most recently lived in Rockland and worked at CMCA has just taken a position with the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson Vermont this September, where she will join VSC in a year-long position as a staff-artist.

    To learn more about Zheng’s work visit: Rachel Lee Zheng

    To learn more about The Steel House’s upcoming exhibitions visit: rocklandsteelhouse.com/projects

    Kay Stephens can be reached at news@penbaypilot.com