Steamboat Springs — Without light, the color red wouldn’t be red. Blue wouldn’t be blue, and white wouldn’t be white.
As Colorado artist Sophia Dixon Dillo studied painting at Colorado State University, she was captured by the perception of art through the reflection, refractions and absorptions of light, and it led her to abandon the paintbrush and try to capture the light as a medium of its own.
“Light is ungraspable,” Dillo said. “You don’t see it if you’re not looking for it in a certain way.”
Dillo’s contemporary art will be on display this month at Vertical Arts Architecture, including an installation, called “Forming Light,” which consists of 13 miles of translucent fishing line woven across the Vertical Arts office, cascading like a light waterfall into the space.
She also has several small box pieces mounted on a clean, white wall at the gallery. The mysterious, veiled materials draw the viewer into the void between perception and understanding.
A reception for Dillo is at the office from 6 to 9 p.m. today.
Vertical Arts project manager Travis Mathey said the way Dillo formed the installation to the complex space brought the project to life.
“As a designer, I think this is a unique opportunity to look at art and how it complements space,” he said. “This is the best example of art and architecture blending together.”
This is the fourth “Forming Light” installation she has done, and Dillo said it took about a day and a half, and a team of people, to string the fishing line around the room.
It takes only five minutes to cut it down.
She first started doing the installations in 2007, after she was inspired by artists using fishing line to hang their work.
Instead of looking at the art, Dillo found herself looking up at the fishing line and the way the light refracted through it.
“I wanted to be shifting the space or bodily feel of the viewer,” she said about her first installation. “I want to enter into the space of the viewer and have them experience their body and sensation in a different way, and maybe in an unexpected way.”
As she experimented with translucent materials, she expanded her work to include the small boxes, which feature a piece of satin glass materials displayed behind it at different depths.
The frosting of the satin glass distorts the materials, which reflect, absorb and refract light in varying manners. The effect is almost holographic in nature, with the color, shape and sharpness of the objects varying with the position of the viewer.
“We tend to want to know what we’re looking at,” Dillo said. “I’m really interested in that initial perception experience, before the naming of the object enters that experience.”
With Dillo’s Buddhist background and rural lifestyle in Crestone, she said that Zen teachings, while not a prominent theme, inform the quiet contemplativeness of her work.
And for many people, that quiet may be just as hard to grasp as the light in Dillo’s work.
“We spend so much of our day e-mailing, texting … I wanted something that would slow people down into that first stage of perception.”
— To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or e-mail ninglis@SteamboatToday.com