In interdisciplinary artist Darcy Rosenberger’s Houston studio, organically inclined geometric sculptures hang suspended from a medley of acrylic (and some exclusively metal) mobiles, patiently waiting for the lazy indoor air to twirl them into pint-sized aurora borealis projectors. The sculptures, which are part of her new exhibition Home, launching tonight at HCC Northline Gallery, are the closest you can come in Houston to being baptized by the Northern Lights. The sculptures’ substrates are multi-faceted acrylic panels, morphed seamlessly to other planes. The pattern, beckoning a familiarity I feel in my DNA, provides a hypnotic depth — a word I don’t know but feel has existed from the beginning of time. The sculptures seem to breathe, and in doing so expand their sacred, Alhambresque geometry throughout the room.
Rosenberger taught robotics at TXRX, so it goes without saying that she knows her way around technology and manufacturing materials, and these briskly patterned electric ice cubes have long been a fascination of hers.
The artist wants to talk about transformation and inheritance through her new work, hence the pattern punched onto every cube in the show is the same — inherited. Her patterned sculptures unfold in a variety of sizes, their hollowed-out centers each seemingly filled with radiant pools of glitter. All of her iridescent figures have the same five-fold symmetrical pattern cut into their faces. And while they vary in size, they are all members of the same genus, each sporting the same laser-cut pattern and gently folded geometric edges.
What’s interesting about Rosenberger’s mandala-esque shapes is their seeming impermanence, and the ability of the shapes to expand and collapse. That penchant for expansion and contraction mimics immigrants and the spaces they occupy as they experience the process of acculturation. Immigrants are often expected to reduce themselves to blend in and assimilate into American culture, only expanding themselves when they feel safe. The sculptures shift to fit societal molds, a personification that Rosenberger pulls from her personal history.
At the time of the studio visit, Rosenberger had vintage, Super 8 video footage of her family looping on her laptop. And although the artist herself isn’t in any of these videos (they were all filmed before her birth), she has footage of family members spanning generations. Rosenberger says she came across these family videos during Christmas and felt compelled to use them in a creative exploration of her family history. As a second-generation Chinese American, Rosenberger hopes that the footage, when projected onto her softly rigid sculptures during the exhibition, will help counter the popular stereotype of Asians being portrayed as hard and emotionally cold. The video projection, which will see her family history literally lending light to her work by being reflected in kaleidoscopic fashion off of her opalescent sculptures, will undoubtedly aid the site-specific installation.
While Rosenberger’s work tells you what to expect, it also allows you to focus on how the same can look different. It’s easy to get lost in the hypnotic patterns of the sculptures and find comfort in their ordered crystalline chaos.
Rosenberger takes you home, to the things that are light and heavy, to hollowed-out things that the light can shine through.
“Home” will be on view at HCC Northline Gallery through April 9, with an opening reception on March 19 from 6 to 9 pm.