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‘All Made Light’: Lois Goglia’s Exhibition in Context

In her recent exhibition at Esther Klein Gallery, X-Ray Visions, Lois Goglia presents several interconnected series of works featuring medical imaging as a source for aesthetic investigation. Drawn at first to the conflicted beauty of an x-ray image during a hospital visit, the Connecticut-based artist has continued to explore visual representations of the internal, expanding her practice to incorporate DNA sequencing gels, ultrasounds, and MRI imaging. From this scientific source material, the artist’s interventions – layering, digitizing and collaging – create abstracted compositions of color and light.

GENESIS, shown in the darkened back room of the Esther Klein Gallery, consists of a series of eighteen achromatic light-box collages. The series visualizes the beginning of life using DNA sequencing gels, handwritten notes, combined with animal and human X-rays. Lit from within, the series feels particularly suited for the space – the patterns of the gray and white marble gallery floor reinforcing the limited palette and formal structure of the artwork. The dimly-lit room is contemplative; you can move from piece to piece to form a loose narrative cycle, an experience reminiscent of viewing the Stations of the Cross. The religious parallel underscores the bioethical conflict of the subject. Although this series dates from 2003, the idea of when, where and how life begins is incredibly relevant in our current time.

The spiritual connotations of Goglia’s imagery are also apparent in the large and brightly colored Life Cycle series. These collages re-compose the artist’s use of X-ray images with fragments of musical scores from choral arrangements by composers like Haydn and Brahms. The resulting remix is comprised of four highly chromatic, large-scale, digital prints that visually reference stained glass windows in both size and palette. The series, along Goglia’s other work on display in We Are All Made of Art, mines traditions of illumination and image-making in the interconnected realms of science, art, and religion.

The constructed binary of secular/spiritual is likewise challenged in the current exhibition Sunset for No One at The Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral - a two block walk from the Esther Klein Gallery. Hung in the magnificent (but modernized) 19th century Cathedral, the show features the paintings of Meghan Cox and photography of Jacob Lunderby installed beneath the Cathedral’s historic stained glass windows. The artists’ work – whether Cox’s deftly painted, harshly lit figures or Lunderby’s veiled and layered digital landscapes – is luminous and haunting. Although these works are highly representational in their own right, each artist weaves an abstract narrative. This exhibition – filled with doubt and wonder – feels at home in a cathedral, and the timing is fortunate. There is an unplanned conversation between the nearby, coinciding exhibitions – one at a center for science and one at a site of worship – a conceptual proximity worth contemplating. The visual connections between shows – between light and image, photography and wonder, body and belief – resonate within both spaces.