Monday, Jan. 21 marked the opening of junior studio art major Taryn Wiens’ premiere solo exhibition in Cossitt Hall. “The Recurring Ephemeral: Light in Iceland and New Mexico” will be on display until February 1.


A product of a Venture Grant-funded expedition to Iceland and New Mexico this summer, Wiens’s show consists of a variety of media, including embroidered watercolors, photography, and three-dimensional installations. The initial idea for the project began to develop about a year and-a-half ago as Wiens, interested in taking advantage of the Venture Grant opportunity, explored options in relation to her work as an artist.


Taryn Wiens received a Venture Grant to explore Iceland and New Mexico. Photo courtesy of Taryn Wiens
Taryn Wiens received a Venture Grant to explore Iceland and New Mexico. Photo courtesy of Taryn Wiens

“I have been enamored with Iceland and New Mexico because they are both known for really beautiful light,” Wiens said. “I was curious about what makes certain light more beautiful than others.”


Granted the award during her sophomore year, Wiens embarked to Iceland in May of 2012 and then to New Mexico in August, spending about two weeks in each location. In Iceland, Wiens utilized hostels and local farms for lodging, relying primarily on photography and journal keeping as methods for gathering inspiration. The trip to New Mexico included time in Taos, Santa Fe, and camping in the southern part of the state.


“I didn’t really go with any sort of idea of what I was going to do,” Wiens said. “When I came back, I ended up making a lot of work from it that just kind of needed to be made and I wanted a way to share it.”

Involved in art since high school, Wiens has encountered the role of light within her work for years. This project, however, allowed for deeper investigation into the artistic tool.


“I have never really taken [the issue of light] head-on and explored the concept and how the core system of light interacts with us and how we interact with it,” Wiens said.


Wiens’ exhibition fills the upper hallway of Cossitt with work conducted in a variety of methods, each examining the system of light. Most striking is an installation of found objects Wiens collected in Iceland and New Mexico. By removing the pieces from their original locations, Wiens examines the role contextual light plays in defining an object.


“I wanted to make the Colorado light more noticeable,” Wiens said. “This is the piece I definitely think changes the most with the time of day and the weather and the various kind of light that comes through the window.”

Additional pieces include a series of photographs from the two locations and small-scale watercolor and pastel drawings detailed with embroidery thread. Each provide a glimpse into the stunning landscapes and quality of light Wiens witnessed during her travels. A sculptural wall piece, constructed from hand-woven fabric and light sources, depicts what Wiens described as the “multiplicity but unifying factor of light.”


As a supplement to her pieces, Wiens includes a visual diagram of her thought process throughout the project. Wanting to avoid creating a set hypothesis, she instead illustrated personal conclusions reached regarding light during her travels and the creation of the body of work through a display of snapshots and handwritten notes.


“I am interested in this idea that anybody can become curious about something that they see or something that they recognize in everyday life and approach it and pick it apart even if they don’t have, necessarily, the credentials to do that,” Wiens said.


Having the opportunity to exhibit a solo show is one that few art majors achieve prior to their thesis shows senior year. Gallery space for student art on campus is limited, as well as time within the block plan to put on such a production.


“It was definitely more expensive, more work, and more time than I had predicted,” Wiens said. “But I am pleased with the results.”


As far as artistic plans for the future, Wiens acknowledged the pivotal role that “The Recurring Ephemeral: Light in Iceland and New Mexico” will play in continuing to influence her work.


“I have become really interested in ephemerality and the way things last and the ways we forget and remember them,” Wiens said. “I hope that I can take what I have learned from this and use it as the jumping off point for a new idea to flow into the next thing.”

Leave a Reply