Light up your life at the ‘illuminated’ exhibit

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Jasmin Campoya

The “Illuminated” exhibition brings paintings, screens, lights, and sounds to display an interactive experience to guests.

Elisha Nuñez, Staff Reporter

Unique patterns on plexiglass and mylar cut-outs cover the walls, decorated in bright colors from the overhead lights. Proximity-based speakers that make noises when you get close to the artwork and bright neon colors emanating from the paint are just a few things to look forward to at “illuminated,” an exhibition entirely put together by Las Cruces-based artist, Isadora Stowe.  

“So ‘illuminated’ is an on-site specific installation by artist Isadora Stowe. It kind of combines painting silkscreens, floating mylar, plexiglass silhouettes, and video projections and hydroponic sounds to kind of create a very immersive experience for visitors,” said Claudia Preza, an assistant curator at the El Paso Museum of Art (EPMA). “You can see her work; the sounds and see movement. So, it’s a very kinetic sort of an exhibition.” 

Raised in a household with an artist father, Stowe was always surrounded by art. 

“He always had me in the studio, always with the sketchbook or art supplies,” Stowe said.   

During her years in high school, Stowe created all sorts of artwork. From an art residency overseas to obtaining both a BFA and MFA in Art at New Mexico State University, Stowe explained how she did not choose art, but that “art chose (her).”  

Stowe’s latest exhibition is more than enough to show her 20-plus years of experience in professional art.  

“illuminated” is full of various pieces combined into one exhibit, artworks that one probably would not have thought art could be made from. Mylar, a material typically used from packaging for architectural drawings, can be seen hanging on the walls cut out into shapes that cast various shadows and designs due to the overhead lights. Plexiglass, or acrylic; which is used in plane windows and car lenses, decorates the walls of the exhibition as big circles with dozens of tiny, colorful designs.   

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  • “illuminated” is an exhibit that was created by Isadora Stowe and is up for display at the El Paso Museum of Art.

  • The “illuminated” exhibit brings paintings, screens, lights, and sounds to display an interactive experience to guests. It also features the use of various non-artistic materials like mylar and plexiglass, or acrylic.

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One may ask themselves, “Why would you make art from something that is not meant for art?” In response to such a question, Stowe has an answer. “I took it and made it into something to (show) art. I like doing that. Taking things that are meant for something else,” she said.  

Accompanying the many colorful designs on the plexiglass is a little surprise waiting for visitors carrying a black light flashlight, color sensitive paint. If you thought the designs were colorful before, wait until the blacklight shines on the designs. Neon colors come to life, reminiscent of a phenomenon found in nature called bioluminescence.   

“Just like in nature, bioluminescence is something that animals have,” Stowe said. “So, the idea that things are revealed in different kinds of ways when you look at them, creates another kind of relationship with these objects and how generative they are.”   

Another main part of the exhibition is something Stowe has been focusing on for approximately a decade, iconography, which is the interpretation of images or symbols used in art. The designs and even the mylar cutouts, all of which were based on local flora, fauna and various cityscapes, are there to create a sense of familiarity with the visitors.  

To go with said designs, there are overhead speakers that go off when you are near the artwork. They play sounds recorded by Stowe on her various trips, from casual hiking outings to her time in Mexico City.   

“There’s a ton of (sound) collections, and then they’re all placed together to create this kind of universe,” Stowe said. “Kind of like when sound was blasted out into the universe, to come out about what we are, who we are. So, it’s this sample of humanity echoing back at us. Also, the imagery in the show is also universal imagery that’s been made surrealistic. It’s all these things that we see in our everyday lives, but they’re kind of placed together in more of a chaotic sense.”  

The exhibition first made its way to the EPMA last October and will remain there until March of this year. For more information about the exhibition and hours of operation, visit epma.art. Stowe will be hosting talks and workshops as well. 

Elisha Nunez may be reached at [email protected]