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A Smack of Art: Medusa Smack at Schneider Museum of Art

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Through a jellyfish-like structure illuminated by colorful lights Vanessa Renwick’s art installation “Medusa Smack” encapsulates a peaceful easy feeling. The installation will open at Schneider Museum of Art on Wednesday, April 5, and that Saturday, April 8, Renwick’s installation will be accompanied by musician Tara Jane O’Neil.

“It’s a dome screen that’s in the shape of a jellyfish,” says Renwick, a long-time and celebrated Portland-based artist. “You duck under it to sit on pillows that look like sea grass.” Colored lights illuminate the white moon jellyfish as they move across the screen. “It’s a very relaxing and all-encompassing piece.”

Renwick is an institution in her own regard, perhaps best known for her experimental short films, and increasingly for her installation. She recently was offered a space at the University of Oregon called the White Box. “A square room that was probably 14×14,” she says, “it got my wheels turning of what I would do with that space. I love it when people give me spaces to create something with it.”

Incorporating music into art isn’t anything new for Renwick. “A great majority of my work I work with musicians and commission to do scores. [As] I grew up, my father sang opera and I went to lot of art rehearsals. Growing up, watching stories being told with music is something I learned as a child and always translated it into my filmmaking.”

Renwick seems attached to these early influences, but also has drifted into more imaginative and less formal realms with her artistic expressions. As a kid, she frequented Art Institute in Chicago, where she grew up—one of the country’s most prolific museums for contemporary American art. As well, she explains, she worked an art movie house.

“When I was hitchhiking, I stopped in San Francisco,” she says. “That was the first time I saw experimental films.” Her current installations seem to focus all of these influences to seemingly simple images and moods, yet simultaneously complex and brimming with emotion; a million angles dancing on a pinhead.

For “Medusa Smack,” she hopes it gives viewers “a moment to reflect on how large the natural world is and we are not the only things that matter. And also the beauty of nature and also to slow down their heartbeat.”

Medusa Smack

Opens Wednesday, April 5

Schneider Museum of Art, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd, Ashland

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