The sky is the limit for Ontario-born artist Jason Paradis. His latest contemplative, site-specific installation was unveiled at at Northwestern University’s Dittmar Gallery on Jan. 9. Inspired by his many camping adventures under the vast, twinkling sky in the Northern Canadian wilderness, the exhibit will run to Feb. 8.
The exhibit explores the evening sky, bringing the external stars above into the gallery below. Comprised of a combination of paintings, drawings, more than 700 strands of acrylic yarn and a pile of rocks, Paradis’ intricate work fills the entire gallery. It explores the heavens by collapsing time, distance and space. “This new installation consists of a series of paintings based on star formations that would be visible if you could see them from inside the Dittmar Memorial Gallery,” said the artist.
He said he plotted two sets of star maps to the canvases, both set for Jan.9, the day the exhibit opened – one at 6:13 a.m, and the other at 5:43 p.m.
He said the two time periods are the nautical twilight times — the moment where the sun is 12 degrees below the horizon and general outlines of ground objects, including the horizon, are unclear.
“The transfer will be accurate regarding the location of each star, but will be abstracted to create a visual response investigating the moment where night and day is indistinguishable,” Mr. Paradis added.
The acrylic and spray-painted canvases, which are individually mounted to the walls, are done in gradient shades of light to darker blues. Each “star” in the canvas will be connected with single strands of sturdy acrylic yarn fastened to heaps of rocks collected around the Evanston area, including heavy chunks of rocks from former Northwestern University buildings.
He said the 16 individually displayed paintings were originally grouped together as one large painting. For the Dittmar exhibition, Mr. Paradis has combined three of these paintings to create a triptych adjacent to the gallery’s entrance. In addition, six of his black-and-white pen and ink drawings are displayed on another gallery wall.
“I want viewers to contemplate the vastness of the sky and admire the intricacies of the strands of yarn,” said Mr. Paradis. “I also encourage visitors to walk around the installation and even crawl under the yarn and become part of the piece, which is a very meditative experience.”