New Art Center Waco exhibit, ‘Perspectivism,’ challenges viewers

Perspectivism will be at the Art Center Waco beginning Sep. 1, 2022 and closing Nov. 5, 2022. Photo courtesy of Glasstire.

By Emma Weidmann | Staff Writer

In artist Jack Bower’s new exhibit, “Perspectivism,” he said he wants the viewer to challenge themselves. The exhibit, which will run from September 1 through November 5 at Art Center Waco, tricks the eye and makes viewers think twice about what they expect to see and what is actually there.

Bowers coaxes flat shapes to come jumping from the wall — or at least they seem to. One of his favorite pieces, although he said he loves them all the same, is a large open box, big enough to seem like a window into a separate room. The trick, though, is that this piece is actually flat, despite what the shadow it casts on the wall might suggest. You might have to look at it from the side to believe that it really is level with the wall.

This is the kind of perspective change that Bowers and Art Center Waco Director and CEO Doug McDurham want viewers to make. To McDurham, now is a time when people are stuck in their ways, in their echo chambers and tunnel vision.

McDurham said this exhibit poses the sorts of questions that this country needs to ask itself right now — how can we challenge our own beliefs? How can we look at things from the perspective of others? How can we remember that others are more like ourselves, and more surprising, than we might immediately assume?

The mission of Art Center Waco, and ultimately of “Perspectivism,” is just that — an escape from single-mindedness. McDurham said that art is meant to bring people out of their assumptions.

“We [at Art Center Waco] believe in the transformative power of art,” McDurham said. “Art has the power to remind us what we have in common and have sight of what makes us unique … we in many ways have lost our ability to view the world from a different perspective and we surround ourselves with images and sound bites that reinforce what we already think. We need art like this to remind us that perspective counts, and where we stand in the room, figuratively, affects what we see.”

One piece is composed of 10,000 individual rhomboid shapes of different sizes and hues. But, don’t be fooled by Bowers’ explosive use of color. There’s more to the meaning of “Perspectivism” than just illusion and the punch that meets the eye. Bowers is passionate about the climate, and believes that art has an obligation to comment on the world we live in.

In one piece, a serene autumnal view is interrupted by a signpost in the ground covered from every inch in bright graffiti. Bowers said he wanted the viewer to think about humans’ impact on nature and to contrast what some may find to be garish vandalism with something pure and untouched. Bowers challenges the viewer once again as they consider this juxtaposition and why they might find graffiti to be defacement.

“We’re in a climate crisis, and I’m always thinking about that,” Bowers said. “Whenever possible, I try to bring that into the visual imagery. It’s our job as an artist to interpret and give perspective in a poetic way — sharing how we feel.”

According to a press release from Art Center Waco, “the philosophy of perspectivism holds that we tend to bring our own established, automatic and persistent way of looking at the world.” The perspective Bowers brings to his art and to the world is that of being a vessel of expression.

“I want to see what comes out of me,” Bowers said. “In a way, I’m sitting there waiting to see what happens next. A mark goes on, and I react to that mark with another one … I’m after a certain energy, a feeling for the viewer.”

Other than its ideological worth, McDurham said “Perspectivism” is simply a fun exhibit.

“This is an enjoyable exhibit … Jack makes good use of geometry and shape and color and chaos. We’re pleased that it’s on the wall,” McDurham said.

Emma Weidmann
Emma Weidmann is a junior English major from San Antonio, with minors in News-Editorial and French. She loves writing about new albums and listening to live music. After graduating, she hopes to work as an arts and culture reporter.