Beth Galston: Unraveling Oculus

June 18 - October 10, 2022

Over the course of 30 years, Beth Galston’s artistic endeavors flowed in two directions: working outdoors to integrate sculptural, architectural elements into the landscape, and inverting her process by massing leaves and other flora in interior spaces and building her sculptures into, on, and in relationship with the architecture. Recently, she has integrated a third component, video, into her installations. This medium adds the element of time to the viewing experience. Galston weaves her meditative artistic process throughout the moving image.

With its seamless integration of time-based video and sculptural elements, Unraveling Oculus is an immersive viewing experience. Located within a silo, the camera’s “eye” reorders our physical and mental relationship to the moving image as well as to the gallery space we are sitting in. The shifting dynamic between creating and creation enriches the interpretive possibilities, since we can watch the artist creating an installation in the silo while also viewing the finished video as part of this installation.

The internal, pictorial logic and materiality of the sculptural elements of Unraveling Oculus and the temporal nature of the video combine to transform the gallery into a transitional space between inside and outside, studio and gallery, art and life.

— Mara Williams, Curator Emerita

In the spring of 2021, I received an unusual invitation: to create a video within a silo. The resulting video, Unraveling Oculus, forms the basis for my installation.

By way of background, in the early 1980s, I attended a graduate program at MIT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS), whose director was Otto Piene. Otto and his wife Elizabeth purchased a piece of land in Groton, Massachusetts, that had two silos on it, with the idea that one day, it would become an “Art Farm.”

At the beginning of the pandemic, several CAVS alumni envisioned that the silos would be the perfect spaces—both solitary and safe—for the staging of installations and performances. These would be filmed and presented in a video program called Silo Solos. All the artists were excited to revisit the collaborative, idealistic spirit of CAVS. The following year, I participated in Silo Solos-2, which was screened at the B3 Biennial of the Moving Image in Frankfurt, Germany.

I created my video (titled, like this exhibition, Unraveling Oculus) in the Bell Silo, which contains a suspended bell and benches created by artist Paul Matisse in 2012. The dome of the silo has a circular opening, an “oculus,” that lets in light throughout the day. Using mirrors to reflect the oculus, as well as natural materials collected on my long daily walks in the woods during the pandemic, I created a series of actions as a kind of “duet” with the deep resonant sounds and changing light in the silo. These actions were filmed and woven into a fairy-tale-like narrative in collaboration with Ellen Sebring, a fellow CAVS alum and video artist. 

In the BMAC installation, the video, projected in a small room, is echoed by the sculptural elements within the space, drawing the viewer into a multilayered, dreamlike world. Slender strips of mirror are arrayed in a mosaic-like pattern on the floor, at times capturing and interacting with fleeting images from the video. A 1,400-foot-long rope of acorn caps descends from the ceiling to form a sprawling, tangled mass on the floor, partially obscuring the mirrors. In this darkened room, benches are provided for viewers to slow down and take in the experience over time.

My goal for this piece, and for all of my sculptures, is to choreograph the elements of light, space, nature, and material into immersive environments, engaging viewers as participants in an imaginative journey.

— Beth Galston


June 18, Saturday, 5 p.m. — Celebration of Summer Exhibits
September 22, Thursday, 7:30 p.m. — Artist & Curator Conversation: Beth Galston and Mara Williams
October 1, Saturday, 2 p.m. —  Foraged Materials Sculpture Workshop


Video: Installation of “Beth Galston: Unraveling Oculus”
Installation shots
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