Fields of influence

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Using primarily discarded materials from Los Alamos National Laboratories, Agnes Chávez has created "SPACEMIND," an installation at Café Loka, located at 112-E Camino de la Placita. After it opened Nov. 16, she has been adding something new to the piece each week. A celebration of its completion is planned Friday (Jan. 15) from noon until 3 p.m.

“This one was inspired by DNA,” says Chávez, gesturing to the wavy strand snaking along the giant wall of Loka’s second gallery room. Consisting of 32 palm-sized clear plastic circles jutting from the wall, their multiple shadows make for a fuzzy distinction between the tangible and intangible.

“Scientists are now uncovering what the mystics have known all along,” Chávez says. “They’re discovering that DNA is not a one-way path. Internal matter of DNA is now known to be regulated by an external field of influence. Our thoughts and beliefs form part of that external field.”

Ever since her studies on holography in New York City in the 1980s, when she was surrounded by scientists and artists, Chávez has been fascinated by “new physics” and Einstein’s theory of relativity. “Exploring these concepts through my work has been an obsession ever since,” she says. “For example, the idea that space and time are one and that this ‘spacetime’ tells matter how to move and matter bends the ‘spacetime’ … I just find that incredible.” 

Despite her work’s scientific inspirations, a degree in quantum mechanics is not required to enjoy the playful, delicate images and their symbiosis with the café. One smaller piece has multi-colored wires spun wildly around one another like a star’s trail as it blasts into hyperspace. A tryptych balances above a large community table, adding its own visual rhythm to the mix of customers’ chatter and clicking laptops.

 A poem is projected continuously onto a wall, chewing on notions such as invisible worlds and interdependent macro and micro universes. Other words weave through the installation. “UNPERCEIVED” zig-zags across a white bench. Stamped on the rusty green dumpster in the parking lot in large white letters is the word, “SPACEMIND.”

This exhibit marks Chavez’ return to the professional art world after a nine-year hiatus. She formerly worked in mixed media glass-and-metal construction and over the last decade has been raising her son (now age 15) and developing her business, Subé, which markets an educational curriculum she created for teaching Spanish to children using art, music and games. The curriculum is being used by teachers nationwide and will soon be available overseas as well.  

Her next project, a collaboration with Dutch artist Dienke Nauta, will involve installations placed in unused corners of local participating businesses.

“If all of a sudden we see something unusual, somewhere that we weren’t expecting, it challenges our perception of how things should be which can lead to new ways of seeing things,” Chávez says.

“Art + STEM” (science, technology, engineering and math) is an educational program branching from this series, where new media artists that are integrating science and technology are brought into the schools to give intensive workshops. Its goal is to “reintegrate art into the schools in a more holistic and engaging way.” The first visiting artists will be Steve Storz teaching kinetic sculpture and Nauta teaching installation art, both at Taos Academy.

For more information call (575) 770-4256 or visit www.agnesChávez.com.

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