Adorned Spaces fills Summit Artspace

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Summit Artspace has a very interesting exhibition of photographs by two younger artists called Adorned Spaces that will be on display through June 14.

Though the artists share the same theme for their display, the work is vastly different,

Marissa McClellan’s “Male, 2 Years Old” is on view in Summit Artspace’s Adorned Spaces.

Marissa McClellan’s “Male, 2 Years Old” is on view in Summit Artspace’s Adorned Spaces.

both in subject, technique and artistic choices of the use of light, contrast and the like.

Marissa McClellan peeks through her lens into people’s bedrooms, with an eye toward understanding the people who use the things one can find in them. Her photos do not show the inhabitants. They don’t need to.

In an interview during the opening reception May 9, McClellan said she is simply “nosy.” As a child, she was fascinated by people’s bathrooms. She would try to peek in, thinking that what she found there would say much about the people.

That interest transferred to bedrooms. McClellan said as she would be on her way to the bathrooms, she noticed “that the bedroom doors were always closed.” She wanted to see inside, to get an idea of what was behind the shut doors.

Her adventure has led her to photographing hundreds of bedrooms — most of them from this region, but some from Columbus and places in Florida.

The result is a remarkable collection of glimpses into private spaces. As the viewer wanders through the galleries and looks at the works, which are identified only by the gender and age of the person who has the room, he or she realizes that you can surmise quite a bit about the people.

For example, there’s a digital print called “Male, 2 Years Old” that depicts a crib surrounded by piles of toys and books. The room is incredibly clean and tidy. One can guess that this room belongs to a well-cared for child whose parents probably dote on him and do their utmost to make him comfortable.

Another photo, “Male & Female, 50 Years Old,” is shown looking head on to the headboard of the bed where one sees a seemingly never-ending array of photographs of children — at their graduation ceremonies, birthdays, class photos and the like. It’s easy to get an idea of their interests and their place in life.

One interesting thing is that the couple’s bed was made, something that is not seen in most of the photos. The viewer starts getting the idea that no one seems to care much about that — maybe because it is personal space that isn’t seen, but maybe for a host of lesser reasons.

To be honest, one isn’t much surprised in seeing the rooms once the gender and age are denoted, except for one image of a “Male, 24 Years Old.” The bed is not made, all right, but the room is adorned with the stuff of a castle. The bed seems to be monstrous and surrounded by sumptuousness. On opening night, most overheard questions were about that particular work.

McClellan floods her images with light, and then in a sense, illuminates aspects of her subjects’ lives.

Andrew Tomas Lopez, the other artist on display, works quite differently.

Lopez’s photographs (archival inkjet prints) are images of the cooperation and collaboration he does in his art with his autistic son. Lopez documents in art the artistic interests of his son as the youngster makes the things of his world comply with his notion of them.

The son, now 8 years old, has gone through phases of being interested in triangles, then circles and still further animals.

Lopez snaps the results of the son’s efforts, but imbues the images with contrasts of light and sharpness that kind of serve as a dividing line between the son’s artistic hand and the father’s.

On one wall, there’s a row of three photographs showing the son’s interest in pyramids. In one, the son builds a standard looking pyramid from toy building blocks. At his father’s encouragement, he builds one more fascinating from rubber dinosaurs — the colors are more muted and the tones, from the way they overlay, show a sharp affinity for shape and color.

For the viewer, it is captivating to see how the father and son work together to produce some things of beauty.

There are 32 works on display — 18 from Lopez and 14 from McClellan. The works were arranged by Rob Lehr, the Summit Artspace gallery coordinator. Lehr has done a great job with these pieces — giving them lots of room on the white walls so that each work stands apart from the rest. It is interesting that the gallery space looks much larger than it has in other shows. There’s also a clean and inviting aspect in the way the objects have been mounted and are presented.

The artists, who are both from Akron, will discuss their work in public talks May 22 and 29 at 7:30 p.m. at Summit Artspace, 140 E. Market St.

Summit Artspace is open from noon to 9 p.m. Thursdays and noon to 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. For more information, call 330-276-8480 or visit Admission is free.

Roger Durbin is professor emeritus of bibliography at The University of Akron and an avid art enthusiast. To contact him, email

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