Specter: Dialogue about Climate Change

Charles Beneke

GALLERY TALK / RECEPTION: Sunday, September 13, 2015 at 2:00 pm

A swirl of handprinted wallpaper, relief and monoprint elements will envelop visitors to the Akron Art Museum’s Judith Bear Isroff Gallery from August 1, 2015 through January 3, 2016. “Specter,” an installation by Charles Beneke offers both pleasure in its lush surface decoration and a stark reminder of our penchant for excess and its impact. Beneke, a Professor and Printmaking Area Coordinator at the University of Akron’s Mary Schiller Myers School of Art, is an accomplished printmaker and installation artist whose work is visually stunning as well as challenging in asking viewers to confront the ecological crises that we face.

Charles BenekeRather than presenting his prints framed or in bound volumes for intimate viewing, Beneke’s work fans out over wall surfaces and into space.  In “Specter,” representational patterns of vegetation influenced by sources ranging from Dürer prints to the artist’s garden morph into abstract patterns.  These in turn project from the wall into space, accumulating in a figurative parallel of the human-made accumulation of carbon and greenhouse gas that endangers our planet. Irregularity yields to ordered repetition and forms reference both the direction of the prevailing winds in Northeast Ohio and diagrams that chart rising levels of atmospheric carbon.  As the form reaches a visual crescendo, it spirals onto its self with cyclonic, vortex-like force, snaking across the gallery.  This sinister structure culminates in a dark void, spilling black paper carbon atoms across the floor.  In contrast to his earlier installations, Beneke describes “Specter” as “detaching itself from the wall, moving through the gallery and occupying the same space as the viewer, becoming increasingly imposing and confrontational.”

Chief Curator Janice Driesbach describes “Specter” as “the culmination of a series of works Beneke has created over the past several years that address the fragility of our natural environment and seek to have a positive effect.” She notes that the artist’s ongoing interest in challenging himself with increasingly complex installations, and the priority he places on creating a dialogue with the viewer. In “Specter” visitors are encouraged to reflect upon and modify their actions with Trade Your Carbon for Art, a component of the exhibition in which viewers may take a print in return for a pledge to reduce their personal carbon footprint.

In conjunction with “Specter” Beneke is maintaining a website with installation updates, news articles about climate change and related current events, and continued dialogue about the exhibition at http://charlesbeneke.com.

 Gallery, Store and iQcafé Hours: Wednesday – Sunday: 11 am – 5 pm, Thursday: 11 am – 9 pm, Closed Monday and Tuesday and most major holidays

Admission: Adult general admission is $7, Student and Senior (65+) general admission is $5, Children (17 and under) are FREE, members are FREE. Gallery admission is FREE every Thursday.