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First West Coast exhibition of monumental installation melds art and science at Stanford’s Cantor Arts Center

Image credit: Kurt Hickman
Mar 7 2019

A new exhibit at the Cantor Arts Center invites viewers to imagine not just one universe, but many.

Working at the unexpected intersection of physics, art and the history of modernism, Josiah McElheny’s monumental installation Island Universe, on view through August 18, 2019, envisions an infinite, multiverse scenario, where five separate universes occupy the same space, frozen in their individual moments of expansion.

The sculptural work, made of brilliantly polished chromed metal, handblown glass and radiating lights, is a marriage of scientific research and artistic vision. McElheny collaborated closely with David Weinberg, chair of the Department of Astronomy at Ohio State University, to conceptualize and make the necessary calculations needed for the installation’s forms. Their collaboration took place beginning in 2004 while McElheny was a resident at the Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State.

“Bringing Island Universe to the Cantor is meaningful because the project was inspired by the work of Andrei Linde, a renowned professor in the Physics Department at Stanford,” said Susan Dackerman, John and Jill Freidenrich Director at the Cantor. “My hope is that this exhibition encourages conversations among faculty, students and the wider community about how art and science can be linked in visually stimulating and surprising ways and how these two disciplines can inform each other.” The installation at the Cantor is the first time Island Universe has been exhibited on the West Coast. [Read more.]