Students experience science through artist eyes

Story by Nick Erickson, Assistant Features Editor

Photo courtesy of Chalice Keith

Sculptor Andy Harding is holding his new exhibit “Cloud Witness” in the Clara M. Eagle Gallery until September 24 and it’s aim is to unveil new perspectives of the world.

Located on the 6th floor of the Price Doyle Fine Arts Center, Harding’s work is a testament to his interest in the world of science. For the Nashville resident and former Belmont University student, the once aspiring chemist now channels this interest through wood and metal.

I’ve been interested in matter for a long time, which is why I studied chemistry in college,” Harding said. “I imagined creating new compounds in the laboratory, but then I discovered art and was taken with the creative process and endless possibilities.”

Harding said with his newest exhibit, which began development in 2014, he’s approaching science from an artist’s perspective and attempting to reckon with the implications of what we are learning from new discoveries in science.

“While it isn’t always directly reflected in the work, it’s part of the practice of art-making for me,” Harding said. “Throughout the process of making art, I’m wrestling with these ideas and what they mean.”

While always aiming to experiment, Harding said he prefers working with wood over acrylic sheet. With “Cloud Witness,” his decisions in choice of media justly reflect the concept behind the works themselves and hold a particular meaning for him.

“The primary and most satisfying characteristic of all the materials used to make “Cloud Witness” is that they are reclaimed or discarded,” Harding said. “ It links me to the ongoing saga of material transformation that occurs in nature and the cosmos, which is the conceptual basis for the work.”

Out of everything on display at the exhibit, Harding said he is proudest of what hangs above.

“The suspended wood sculptures and acrylic sheet “ice clouds” that start near the ceiling of the second floor gallery and cascade down into the main floor space are my favorite aspect of the exhibit,” Harding said. “I believe they really transform the space and provide a unique experience for the viewer.”

Presented by the Murray State University Art Galleries and the Department of Art & Design, Harding grew interested in having Murray State as the host for the exhibit.

Harding was approached by a former gallery director of his from Nashville, Michael Martin.

“I looked up images of the Clara M. Eagle Gallery online and thought the unique interior architecture would make for an interesting sculpture installation,’ Harding said.  “I sent Michael an email describing my vision for the space and sharing some images of my work and he responded positively to the idea.”

In addition to Harding’s exhibit, Martin chose to pair the exhibit with artist Ron Johnson’s “Vast” exhibit.

“I paired these two concurrent exhibitions together to juxtapose the organic marks in Johnson’s works with the structured angles of Harding’s sculptures,” Martin said.

Admission into the exhibit is free. Students are invited to come and  see the world as illustrated through Harding’s eyes.