After much anticipation, “Light of the Ocean” — a site-specific installation by artist Francisco Alvarado-Juárez — will officially open with a reception on Friday, November 2, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Southampton Arts Center, located at 25 Jobs Lane in Southampton, marking its final exhibition of the year.
With the help of community volunteers and experts from Cornell Cooperative Extension Marine Program, the two main galleries will be turned into a magical marine environment with pathways through sand, seashells and other organic materials indigenous to the East End, plus video projections of water and marine life, approximately 30 large-scale acrylic paintings, and thousands of repurposed and recycled painted paper bags.
“In my work, nature is a metaphor for the complexity of the human condition,” Alvarado-Juárez said. “For more than 25 years, I have created installations aimed at attracting the viewer through a seemingly natural and familiar space. I use recycled paper from brown grocery bags, painted and cut by hand.
“The bags can take on various natural forms, giving way to multiple interpretations, and also recalling their organic origin,” he continued. “Once placed on the gallery walls, the humidity of each space gives each bag its particular form, changing like a plant over the course of the exhibition. Symbolically, the mundane paper bag is acquiring life.”
The work is “compelling, beautiful and, above all, relevant,” according to Artistic Director Amy Kirwin.
“Not only will the fantastical display be one-of-a-kind, but to be able to open up the installation to the public to view and even help prepare is exactly the kind of opportunity SAC strives to create for our patrons,” she said. “It’s thrilling to be able to peel back the curtain on the creative process and let people in to work closely with the artist and experience what it is like to produce an exhibition.”
In addition, the Cornell Cooperative Extension Marine Program will set up an education center in the back gallery to teach about the marine and plant life featured in the exhibition.
Volunteers and visitors are welcome through November 1, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, and the installation will remain on view through December 31. For more information, call (631) 283-0967 or visit southamptonartscenter.org.