Earthly Delights

Credit: Gowri Sunder/ Credit: Gowri Sunder/ Credit: Gowri Sunder/ Credit: Gowri Sunder/ Credit: Gowri Sunder/ Credit: Gowri Sunder/

This past Friday, Earthly Delights by fine arts sophomores Coco Allred and Sydney Krantz opened at the Frame Gallery. You can see the show from the street, an otherworldly blue and purple glow coming from inside the gallery. Draped from the ceiling are Allred’s beautiful paper cutouts that cast shadows of blue, green, and purple light across the room. An enormous curtain of holographic material falls to the floor as a backdrop for the delicate paper installations. The holes evoke images under a microscope, like shaved bone or fungus. Creating cocoons and dividing up the flow of the gallery, this installation creates an interesting and undetermined pathway to explore the space. Along one wall are Krantz’s paintings, textured and swirling, mimicking the biological and bodily references of the installation.

Earthly Delights is a beautiful give and take between artist and audience. The artists have created a space that doesn’t offer a clear narrative, so the viewer gets to wander through space and project their own associations and stories on the landscape they have created. Playing with references to things big and small, these works “work” in their own way with the idea of the sublime.

In art history, the sublime refers to the sensation you would have in response to images of a violent storm or look over the edge of a cliff. It’s a kind of beauty that nature possesses that reminds you of how small you are and of the potential for great destruction and danger. Specifically, it was used to refer to one’s relationship to God of being so small in the presence of something so powerful and great.

Earthly Delights’ religious undertones are, of course, apparent in the title, but the pieces’ attempt to capture the sublime in abstracted, peaceful imagery takes more time to reveal. The show requires reflection. Although the installation catches the eye immediately, decoding the space and absorbing the paintings takes longer. The pinks and greens of the paintings swirl, like alien skyscapes or textures of a foreign surface under the dotted shadows of the installation — the viewer is transplanted into a fantastical world.

The opening reflected this intention, with small groups of individuals wandering around slowly and gathering in pockets within the paper installation. Whereas The Frame has seen openings with greater formality or rambunctious energy of viewers in audience, this show was reflective and quietly social. Although Allred and Kantz’s art is stunning, Earthly Delights is as much a place to be as things to see. I am itching, in the chaos of finals, to return to the gallery to slow down and take in this kind of beauty that feels so… well, unearthly.