The Visual Arts Program at the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University will present “Knot Knot,” an exhibition visually exploring family roots and oral histories of farming, slavery, and rural ghettos by Princeton senior Alexis Foster, and “IЯIƧ,” an exhibition of paintings examining technology, cognition, and the digital aesthetic through pop art and optical illusion by Princeton senior Crystal Qian. Foster’s work will be on view April 10 through April 14 in the Lucas Gallery at 185 Nassau Street with an opening reception on April 13 at 7:30 p.m. in the Gallery. Qian’s work will be exhibited on the second floor of the Frist Campus Center on the Princeton University campus April 10 through 21with an opening reception on April 11 at 7:30 p.m. in the Campus Center. The exhibitions and receptions are free and open to the public.

rope knot

One of the pieces by Alexis Foster to be included in her senior thesis exhibition, “Knot Knot.” Photo by Alexis Foster

In “Knot Knot,” Foster visually delves into the southern roots of her family. Her rural past is represented by rope woven to make tapestries and murals, and burned wood in the shapes of human heads represents the idea of burning in effigy. By making a large crowd of burned effigy sculptures and mirror prints of these effigies, Foster conveys the word of mouth history, a family history that includes slavery. Her process concerns taking utility away from objects meant for work, for example, taking away the usefulness of rope and wood by unraveling or burning the materials.

Foster, who is from Gastonia, North Carolina, is majoring in visual arts. She came to Princeton with in interest in pursuing the visual arts in some form. She originally intended to major in architecture, then moved to art history, and then to the Program in Visual Arts with an interest in creating original work. She notes that the courses African American Literature with Kinohi Nishikawa, Art and Politics in Colonial South Africa with Chika Okeke-Agulu, History of African American Art with Anna Arabindan Kesson, and Extraordinary Processes with Joe Scanlan and Sigrid Adriaenssens have influenced her work as an artist on this project. The last course particularly inspired her creative work, as it explored new uses in sculpture and structural engineering for ash wood, a resource that suddenly became plentiful due to the destruction of these trees by insects in the U.S.

red linear portrait

One of the pieces by Crystal Qian to be included in his senior thesis exhibition, “IЯIƧ.” Photo by Crystal Qian

In “IЯIƧ,” Qian explores technology and cognition through painting. The use of optical illusions, referential pop art and abstract figures encourages viewers to question the nature of what they perceive; in fact, taking digital photographs of the paintings offers yet a different aesthetic perspective. Qian wrote computer programs to assist in creating these illusions, so she describes her work as “a collaboration between woman and machine.”

Qian, who is from Overland Park, Kansas, is majoring in computer science and uses her interests in technology and visual arts to create interdisciplinary works. Although she came to Princeton with no prior experience, she became involved in visual arts after taking introductory drawing and introductory painting classes during her sophomore year. Courses in computer graphics and graphic design have also influenced her work as an artist on this project, as well as guidance from her computer science advisor, David Dobkin, and her visual arts advisors, Pam Lins and Jeff Whetstone.

The Lucas Gallery at 185 Nassau Street is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The second floor of the Frist Campus Center is a public area and open Monday through Friday 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. and Saturday and Sunday 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.

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