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Artist John Early’s “From Here to There” at Metcalf Gallery

By Kim Hapner Published: Feb 16, 2012

Right Arm Measure, John Early

Artwork created by St. Louis artist John Early is on exhibit during the month of February at the Metcalf Gallery on the Taylor University campus.

This exhibition is comprised of a selection of Early’s work from recent years. Spanning a wide range of media, each piece can be viewed as an exploration of embodied experience, particularly as it relates to perceptions of time and space.

Several pieces explore these themes through mark-making and directly recording everyday activity. For Studio Floor 1 (2008-2009) and Studio Floor 2 (2009-2010), Early lined the floors of his studio with paper during each of his two years of graduate school. Through an accumulation of shoeprints, coffee stains, and other residue, the presence of people is made know. The architecture of each space also begins to emerge, as can be seen in the imprints of floorboards and former walls. To-Do (2009-2010) is a similar collection of marks – specifically the artist’s weekly checklists – also spanning a year and serving as an index of the artist’s life.

Right Arm Measure (2010) and Left Arm Measure (2010) map space and time in a different manner than the Studio Floor pieces. Each photograph records the motion of Early’s arm as he holds a flashlight and swings it around his body in a completely darkened room for approximately twenty seconds. Though these still images capture a relatively short amount of time, the compression of these gestures could not be seen without the aid of the camera.

Similarly in Star Gazing (2011), an 8 minute 20 second video of the sun (a duration that corresponds with the amount of time it takes light to reach the earth), the camera again allows for a visual experience that would be impossible if seen through the naked eye alone.

Another piece combining the artist’s interest in light and domestic space is Cosmos (2012), which consists of over two dozen photographs cataloging each light in Early’s home. The arrangement of the photographs loosely corresponds with the floor plan of his house, thus referencing the familiar shelter of home while alluding to the unknown expanse of space above. This idea of the immeasurable is also present in the sculpture Now (2012), which is a meditation on the fleeting nature of time and the elusiveness of the present.

To contact the artist or for more information about his work, please visit his website: www.john-early.com. The display ends February 29.