Ground Plane 12, 2007–2008
Ultrachrome on Hahnemuhle sugarcane paper
42 × 42 inches
Courtesy of the artist and Patricia Sweetow Gallery
Retail value: $2,800
Gail Wight applies biology, neuroscience, and technology to her art. By combining her interests in science and art, she examines the uncertainty and beauty of life and the the universal truths offered by science. As the same time, she often hints at the inexactitudes of solely using the sciences to explain life's questions.
This ultrachrome print (an archival digital print) is part of a series in which Wight constructed snowflakelike images from hundreds of exact-scale photographs of bones from squirrels, marmots, snakes, frogs, and other animals, none of which are repeated. The bones—some as old as 10,000 years— are from the Hadly Lab collection at Stanford University, Palo Alto, California. In these images, Wight explores the scientific concept of deep time as it is recorded in the layers of fossils found in the earth’s crust, which she considers to be “a conduit of information about the past, and the space upon which we draw our present lives.” Wight arranged the bones in snowflake patterns to contrast the ephemerality of the snowflake with the endurance of the bones.
Gail Wight was born in 1960 in Sunny Valley, Connecticut. She received her BFA in 1988 from Massachusetts College of Art in Boston, and an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1994. After teaching at Mills College in Oakland, California, in 2003 she became an associate professor and director of graduate studies in art practice at Stanford University, Palo Alto, California. Stanford offered her the opportunity to work with scientists. She teaches classes in emerging media and experimental media art. Wight has had numerous solo exhibitions, including most recently at the Beall Center for Art & Technology, Irvine, California; the Nevada Museum of Art, Reno; and the San Francisco Center for the Book. She also worked on a research project on cognition at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, and participated in a performance program at the Exploratorium, San Francisco. She currently lives in Berkeley, California.
Wight’s Creep, 2004, and Center of Gravity, 2008, are highlights of the San Jose Museum of Art’s permanent collection and were recently on view in SJMA’s new media exhibition Vital Signs.