Kohl Gallery unveils Radiant Material exhibition featuring works by five visiting artists

By Emma Reilly


Washington College’s Kohl Gallery unveiled a new exhibit, titled Radiant Material, on Thursday, Sept. 15. The exhibit, which focuses on light, features pieces created by artists Roxana Azar, Tommy Bobo, Daniel Conrad, David Conrad, and Lindsay Packer.

According to Director and Curator for the Kohl Gallery and Lecturer in Studio Art Tara Gladden, the gallery’s theme was inspired by Radiant Echo, a permanent light installation placed in the McLain Atrium of the John S. Toll Science Center in Oct. 2019.

Created by Flux Studio of Baltimore in celebration of the College’s role as a leader in pyrotechnics education, Radiant Echo is a 27 feet by 31 feet installation made up of nearly 290 reflective orbs and over 3,600 LED lights, according to WC’s website.

The works featured in the Radiant Material exhibit also engage with light, though they do so in a variety of ways.

“Conrad, who lives and works in Baltimore, creates color-changing light paintings using LEDs and electronics,” Gladden said. “The paintings change color very slowly over time, so visitors are encouraged to spend time with them…and watch them change.”

Artist Packer uses light to bring life to site-specific installments. Constructed of materials gathered on campus, Packer’s piece seeks to invoke “calm,” “precariousness,” “humor,” and “playfulness,” according to the artist.

“A lot of what I am interested in is working with the site and with the context of the site as well as the community…to essentially improvise a new language of this moment in time,” Packer said.

Senior Kaitlyn Tourin helped to install Azar’s dichroic plexiglass suncatchers in the gallery’s atrium window.

“As a student myself, what I’m hoping people will get out of this is that art can be interactive and fun,” Tourin said. “And I hope people aren’t afraid to step into the gallery and see the magic.”

The exhibit also features Bobo’s installation, created with lights and mirrors, and Gladden’s, which consists of five 3-D printed light bulbs on steel bases.

The exhibit’s opening reception on Sept. 15 was attended by visiting artists, community members, faculty, and students.

Senior Holly Myers was drawn to Conrad’s light paintings. “I thought the exhibit was really interesting and beautiful. Especially the color-changing art, I didn’t realize it was changing at first because it’s such a gradual shift,” Myers said.

According to Myers, the exhibit relates back to her coursework. Her class on the chemistry of art is focused on color as students work to create their own paints out of pigments found in nature.

Freshman Elizabeth Fitzpatrick was also drawn to the exhibit’s opening reception because she is enjoying her arts-related coursework.

“I’m very interested in art,” Fitzpatrick said. “I want to be an art and art history major. I’m in an art history class right now. I’m also into theatre, lights especially, so I wanted to see the difference. I’m interested in the difference between lights in a theatrical versus an artistic setting.”

Freshman Lily Elgayar was interested in the gallery because their Orientation Explore! group, which was focused on museums, brought students to the Kohl Gallery. According to Elgayar, an email from Gladden reminded her to stop by and check it out.

The Kohl Gallery is open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays between 1:30 and 5 p.m., Wednesdays from 4 to 7 p.m., and Saturdays from 12 to 3 p.m.

Students interested in submitting photographs to the Radiant Echo Student Photo Contest and Exhibition, part of an overarching collaboration between the Kohl Gallery and the McLain Program for Environmental Studies, can be submitted to kohlsubmissions@gmail.com through Sept. 26.

Photo courtesy of Katie Tack

Photo Caption: Radiant Material’s reception was open for any interested members of the community.

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