A break between worlds was the inspiration for Boulder artist Martha Russo’s three-decade long journey to her newest exhibition at the ENT Center’s Gallery of Contemporary Art. The pieces on display shoot all the way through the interior of the building to the outside, where passersby can see the work from the road.
Beginning in August, Russo’s “Caesura” includes works titled “Acuna,” “Pensum,” “Incubo” and “Chute,” that GOCA’s staff including Interim GOCA Director Lynné Bowman Cravens hopes students have a chance to witness before its closure in December.
“We’re always trying to get students to come in, because every show is really different from each other,” Bowman Cravens said. “I don’t think we’ve ever done anything like Martha’s exhibition in our space from looking at the archives. So, it’s a completely new experience for the gallery.”
During her lecture on the work behind “Caesura”, Russo described the role of her past in influencing the work as it came full circle. According to Russo, her journey to displaying her work at GOCA began with a career ending injury when trying out for the Olympic Field Hockey Team here in Colorado Springs. Now, in the shadows of Pike’s Peak again, her work is on display.
“Caesura” is one of the largest undertakings in GOCA’s history, according to Bowman Cravens. Over 150 people helped with this show alone, including students helping to assemble 30,000 ceramic pieces and 7 pallets of construction wattles.
“Acuna,” the largest piece in the exhibit, changes form depending on where Russo can display the work. Over 30 years, the recycled ceramic pieces Russo calls Nomos have never been replicated more than once.
Martha Russo’s “Acuna” which is made of thousands of porcelain and paper clay forms. Photo by Lillian Davis.
“This is the 14th time she’s shown [Acuna], but it changes form every time, so it’s kind of a different piece even though the components are being recycled and reused,” Bowman Cravens said.
Because of the uniqueness of the piece on display at the ENT Center, the staff at GOCA “think students should come see the show, because they’re not going to see anything like this in town. They’re not going to see anything like this in Denver either,” Bowman Cravens said.
The work on display at GOCA is a part of Russo’s curiosity toward the world around her, as well as her individual experiences. When describing her piece “Phase Shift,” which is made up of individual construction wattles, Russo said she “wanted to free the wattles” after witnessing them being staked into the ground to limit damage from devastating floods in Boulder.
In an effort to increase discussion, Bowman Cravens hosts class visits from UCCS to encourage dialogue around the gallery.
“There’s a lot of ideas behind the materials and it’s one of those conversations that unfolds as you look,” she said. “Whenever we have class visits, we ask ‘What do you like?’ ‘What do you see?’ and ‘How does that make you feel?”
“Caesura” offers students and the larger UCCS community a chance to witness Russo’s curiosity and interpret what they are seeing around them on display at the ENT Center.
“I think that curiosity and that unknown is really seductive and will keep people coming back,” Bowman Cravens said.
“Caesura” will be on display through December, although “Phase Shift” will stay outside until next summer. To find more information on the gallery, go to the ENT Center’s GOCA website, or follow them on Instagram @gocacolospgs.
Martha Russo speaks to students about her art pieces at the ENT Center on September 28. Photo by Lillian Davis.