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WAM Exhibition Is A Vibrant Debut For New Ulrich Curator

This month, the Wichita Art Museum opened “Vital Signs: New Media Art from the San Jose Museum of Art.”

This exhibition was curated by the Ulrich Museum’s new curator, Jodi Throckmorton, but it was organized when she was working in her former role as associate curator in San Jose.

It is a bit confusing to have Throckmorton’s debut at the Wichita Art Museum instead of the Ulrich, but "Vital Signs" is a wonderful introduction to her aesthetic sensibilities and curatorial prowess. Throckmorton assembled 15 works from the San Jose collection that reflect on humanity and its relationship to the natural world.

Artist Gale Wight views the earth’s environmental changes through geologic time in her installation “Center of Gravity.” Wight’s interactive environment consists of long, thin cylinders that represent core samples of the earth. They glow warmly, suspended from the ceiling, and sound is triggered as visitors meander through.

Multimedia artist Tony Oursler creates a recognizable-yet-alien biological life-form. In his work “Slip,” a distorted, green face is projected on a bulbous, backward “S” shape. The creature has two eyes separated by a vertical mouth, and softly speaks with elongated “s’s” that make it humorous, alluring and a little creepy.

Renowned video artist Bill Viola is, perhaps, most interested in human nature. His hauntingly beautiful work “Memoria” is installed in the DeVore Gallery, separate from the main exhibition. This disconnected location makes it feel like an afterthought, but Viola’s work is actually one of the strongest in the show.