Gallery Exhibit: Persistence of Vision, Colleen Woolpert


Gallery at the Ann Felton Multicultural Center
March 2 - April 14, 2015
Monday - Friday, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Artist Reception: Monday, March 2, 11:15 a.m. - Noon; Artist Talk @11:30am

Persistence of Vision originated in late 2012 with my experiences working with visually impaired adults while living in Seattle. Moments after meeting a stranger, I was walking arm and arm with her in that trusting intimacy that develops when touch and voice stand in for sight, when she suddenly said, ‘I miss looking at the night sky most of all.’ I wondered why she yearned for blackness studded with mystery, a spectral dissonance I assumed to be the condition of those without sight. Her statement seemed a profound metaphor, leading me outdoors on many nights to glance at the enormous telescope on my neighbor’s patio and then follow it’s gaze upward, toward that “great unknown.”

From that initial inspiration, I began to research blindness, astronomy and space exploration, which opened up many more questions and associations. For instance, visualization is largely a mental process. “Persistence of vision” is a term related to cinema that describes how the mind perceives a series of successive action photographs as continuous motion. I borrow the term to suggest other ideas: for people with visual impairments, it applies to mind’s eye imaging, as well as the experience of those who see continual static as the retina attempts to form an image. Persistence of vision is also what allows “people in the dark” (to use Hellen Keller’s expression) to venture from the relative safety of home into the unknown dangers of the outside world. For astronomers who keep vigil at their telescopes on cold winter nights, it is a wish to discover that which no one else has seen before. And for artists and inventors, it is the process required to shape nebulous ideas into clarity and tangible form.  

Colleen Woolpert_3

Colleen Woolpert_4

Above exhibition photos provided by the artist, Colleen Woolpert.

Special Event

Reading by author Stephen Kuusisto

Gallery at the Ann Felton Multicultural Center
Saturday open hours: 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Reading at 2:00 p.m.

Stephen Kuusisto will give an informal reading during special gallery hours for Persistence of Vision at The Gallery at the Ann Felton Multicultural Center. Kuusisto is an author, poet, disability advocate and director of Syracuse University's Renée Crown University Honors Program. In the semi-darkened gallery space, much of Woolpert’s exhibition involves touch, including her piece "Planet of the Blind" named after Kuusisto's acclaimed memoir.  


Picturing Motion: How Movies Began in Syracuse

Gallery at the Ann Felton Multicultural Center
Thursday, April 9, 2015, 5:30 p.m.*
Closing Reception in the Gallery: 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Picturing Motion: How Movies Began in Syracuse is a presentation that delves into one aspect of the Persistence of Vision project. I had a fascination with the pre-cinema device known as the Mutoscope (1894) before I moved to Syracuse in 2007 and rented a photography studio at the Gear Factory on the Near Westside. By chance, a couple years later I discovered that the Mutoscope was invented in Syracuse--in fact, on the site where my studio was located. Incredulous, I made artwork in response (Eggbeater Mutoscope, 2010). In 2014, after living in Seattle for two years, I returned to Syracuse as Artist-in-Residence at the SALTQuarters (also located on the Near Westside). During my residency, I researched the Mutoscope inventors in depth and uncovered an inspiring story of four creative minds that made Syracuse a part of film history lore. Their success inspires me to move forward with the invention of my own optical device, a patent-pending stereoscope called the TwinScope Viewer. Picturing Motion: How Movies Began in Syracuse tells the story of these Syracuse inventors who fought the odds (and Thomas Edison) to bring photographs to life. One image displacing the next is the persistent blink of light upon darkness.

This project is made possible with funds from the Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and administered by CNY Arts. Additional funding provided by Onondaga Community College.