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Artistic process on view in gallery installation

Inside a bird hide

Photograph from inside a bird hide. Image: Janelle Iglesias

By SANDRA Q. FIRMIN

Published January 23, 2014

Visitors to the Lightwell Gallery in the UB Art Gallery in the Center for the Arts soon will be able to watch an artist in action as New York-based artist Janelle Iglesias develops “In High Feather,” a site-specific project inspired by her recent travels throughout Bali, Raja Ampat and West Papua, Indonesia.

“In High Feather” is part of the gallery’s annual Artist-in-Residence program in which artists are invited to transform an empty gallery while it is open to the public.

Viewing will begin on Feb. 13; the official opening of the installation will take place on Feb. 27 with an artist’s reception from 5-7 p.m. The exhibition will run through May 10.

With a Jerome Foundation Travel and Study Grant, Iglesias journeyed to the Arfak Mountains in West Papua in search of the most sophisticated avian architecture on earth — the bower of the Vogelkomp bowerbird. To attract female mates, the males of the species demonstrate incredible construction prowess and astonishing aesthetics as they adorn their bowers —a leafy shelter similar to an arbor — with a wide array of natural and manmade materials found in their immediate surroundings.

Iglesias links her interest in the birds to her own practice, in which familiar objects are poetically reconfigured into different mechanized systems, ecosystems, constellations or simple displays. Exploring how objects and materials carry meaning, as well as our desire to find metaphor and order in the stuff around us, she is equally fascinated by the personal taxonomies of collections and the mind-boggling amounts of matter that is thoughtlessly thrown away.

She describes collection and up-cycling as key parts of her practice, as the materials and objects she uses contribute layers of meaning into the installations themselves.

In her new, two-story installation in the Lightwell Gallery, Iglesias will incorporate images and field recordings from her travels, as well as locally sourced materials, such as discarded Christmas trees and cereal boxes.

Members of the public can experience the installation in progress via a bird hide-like structure

Iglesias will construct in the gallery.

Viewing hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 13-14 and Feb. 20-21, and from 1-5 p.m. Feb. 15 and Feb. 22. After the opening reception on Feb. 27, the installation can be viewed from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 1-5 p.m. on Saturday. It is free and open to the public.

As part of the gallery’s Artist-in-Residence program, the installation aims to forge a meaningful interaction between the artist and diverse groups of people while acknowledging a turn toward research-based, site-specific approaches in contemporary art that have at their core experimentation and ephemerality.