Art and engineering come together in an upcoming exhibit in Colorado State University’s Hatton Gallery. "Alan Rath: Art and Robotics" will be on display from March 28 to April 29, with an opening reception scheduled for noon to 1 p.m. March 28 in the Hatton Gallery, located in Colorado State’s Visual Arts Building.
Rath, who earned a degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, creates diverse works that integrate science and art. His portfolio includes sculptures featuring cathode ray tube monitors that show digitized images of body movements; kinetic sculptures that involve movement; flat rectangular, black panels filled with glowing red numerals; and robotic sculptures that humanize technology. Six major Rath sculptures will be included in the Colorado State exhibition.
Rath’s work has been collected and displayed in major museums and private collections both nationally and internationally, including SITE Santa Fe, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Denver Art Museum and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
"Modern artists have always had an interest in the intersections of art and science," said Hatton Gallery Director Linny Frickman. "We live in a technological world and Rath’s art can show people there’s beauty in technology, ameliorating the discomfort and alienation caused when we don’t understand the inner workings."
Because Rath is an engineer who uses his training to create works of art, his exhibit is a unique opportunity for the art and mechanical engineering departments to work together.
"Rath brings an interesting mix. His medium is technological and it becomes another pallet for the art," said Wade Troxell, acting associate dean of the College of Engineering and an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. "Art becomes more meaningful to engineers and technology becomes more integral to the art for enthusiasts and artists."
Students in Troxell’s course on manufacturing and robotic systems have been given an assignment to describe in layman’s terms the process Rath is demonstrating. The descriptions will help viewers understand the engineering principles behind works in the exhibit.
"It’s kind of like using clay or paint in a composition, but instead using technology, mechanical and electrical components and the engineering design process, that become the media used by Rath to portray dynamic, kinetic, interactive art," Troxell said.
Rath also will deliver a public lecture at 6 p.m. March 28 in the Lory Student Center Theatre. Brown-bag discussions with Rath have been scheduled for noon March 29 and March 30 in the Hatton Gallery.
"We really wanted to choose an artist who is an engineer and who could speak to two audiences," Frickman said. "Rath doesn’t feel that the engineering is simply a means towards the art. It is the art."
Rath’s visit is part of the Department of Art’s Critic and Artist Residency Series, made possible by the FUNd at Colorado State and support from the Colorado Council on Arts and the mechanical engineering department.
In conjunction with Rath’s exhibit, curator John G. Hanhardt will come to campus to discuss Rath’s work and others that combine technology and art. Hanhardt, senior curator of film and media arts at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum will speak on "The Worlds of Nam June Paik" at 6 p.m. April 12 in the Lory Student Center Theatre. He also will participate in a brownbag discussion on Rath’s work at noon April 13 in the Hatton Gallery.
Hatton Gallery hours are 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1-4 p.m. Saturdays. All exhibits and events are free and open to the public. For more details on upcoming exhibits at the Hatton Gallery, visit the Web at http://www.colostate.edu/Depts/Art/ or call 491-1989.