A large steel magenta elephant towers a small violet mouse in the Harris Gallery’s latest exhibit, “Hacer: Shape Form Space” by artist Gerardo Hacer.
One is emerged in a childlike realm, surrounded by six geometric paintings, and three mirrored crates with a steel mouse atop them.
“Hacer’s new exhibit is both a narrative he began several bodies ago, working with origami, steel, and animal forms.” said Dion Johnson, gallery director.
The focal point of the exhibit is the elephant, which casts a shadow on the gallery floor in a grandeur fashion.
“This exhibit is almost like child’s play,” said Beryl Wang, sophomore accounting major.
“It’s unique in a way that the animals look like they should be made out of paper origami.”
Hacer is a Los Angeles based artist who finds inspiration from his childhood and his love of animals by recreating these images through origami animal form in his sculptures. He studied structural welding at the Los Angeles Trade Technical College and previously worked with Jeff Koons, an artist most famously known for his stainless steel balloon animal sculptures.
Hacer liked the space the gallery offered and decided to take advantage of it by planning the exhibit with the location in mind.
“The Harris Gallery has white walls and a high ceiling, almost like a cube, so when I looked at the space, I knew I wanted to do something big in the center,” Hacer said. “Every piece I do relates to childhood in my method of design.”
“It is an ambitious presentation and a unique scenario in terms of two-dimensional and three-dimensional relationships that envelop the entire space of the gallery,” Johnson said.
Hacer’s installation pieces first started with a simple sketch on paper and a basic model design. Origami is used later in the process as a designing tool and method.
“I think about the viewers’ experience when I place a piece in a space and imagine the viewer as a flow of energy cruising around the gallery,” Hacer said.
Taking a closer look at the mirrored crates, the audience can find themselves staring back at a distorted version of themselves as the mirrored crates split their bodies in three.
Each crate has a handle on it and despite the “do not touch” sign, the viewers cannot help but feel curious to pull the handle to see what is inside.
“I wanted to give the crates an almost transparent feel, as they reflect the gallery around them,” Hacer said.
Named “Little Elephant” and “Big Mouse,” the two sculptures contrast one another as the mouse is raised slightly higher than the elephant in the center of the gallery.
“My concept for this installation was a play on size, as the mouse gets on the crates to level the playing field,” Hacer said.
As if it were made of paper origami, Hacer formed the mouse’s structure by deconstructing the elephant’s original form, creating kinship between the two characters.
“I found the elephant to be very cute, yet poised at the same time,” University alumnus Bruce Wang said.
Sharp geometric lines are presented through the sculptures themselves, as well as on the paintings.
“The beauty of a simple plane is extenuated by the geometric lines that surface it,” Hacer said.
The six paintings are zoomed images of the sculpture that capture light and create depth within the piece.
“(This exhibit) is incredibly accessible for all students with or without exposure to art, who can find themselves being surrounded by a positive energy,” Johnson said.
“It exudes joy in a way that shows what fascination with art truly is,” he said.
“Hacer: Shape Form Space” runs until March 6. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Thursday, or by appointment.
Erum Jaffrey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.