CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The biblical story of Jonah and the Whale is the inspiration for the newest art installation at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. The installation, titled “A Message for Ninevah,” was created by visiting artist Jason Hackenwerth, who is known internationally for his unique and inspiring art. “A Message for Ninevah” is installed in the Weil Gallery, and runs now through Friday, Dec. 9.
“We could not be more excited to have an artist of Jason’s caliber working with us,” said Dr. Laura Petican, Assistant Professor of Art and Director of University Galleries at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. “We’re very lucky for his spirit of generosity in taking time out of his schedule to show his work at our University.”
The entire sculpture measures 60 feet long and 20 feet wide, taking up almost the entire space in the Weil Gallery. Hackenwerth’s sculptural installations evoke a multitude of organic forms suggestive of floating hybrid biological creatures, all rendered in multi-colored latex balloons. With a metaphorical form of a beached whale, this exhibition contemplates notions of mortality, transcendence, and rebirth. Hackenwerth says he made it this large so that the viewer would be required to go inside the installation.
“The idea is to remove the viewer from the outside world,” said Hackenwerth. “Like Jonah in the story, it is my hope that this will give them a moment to experience a type of emotion that could resonate within their soul.”
In addition to the Weil Gallery staff, a select group of Islander art student volunteers were recruited based on their skill level and experience working with installations to assist Hackenwerth in bringing it all together. Undergraduate and graduate students met with Hackenwerth on day one of the installation to find out their duties and responsibilities for the nine days the sculpture would take to complete.
“This experience benefits our students because all of them are either current Bachelor of Fine Art or Master of Fine Art candidates who are emerging practicing artists,” said Petican. “They’re interested in learning about traditional techniques using traditional materials as well as new techniques with innovative and unconventional materials. That is exactly what they were able to experience when they worked with Jason.”
Hackenwerth’s immersive works have been shown in solo and group exhibitions in the most prestigious museums and cultural institutions throughout the world such as the Guggenheim Museum, New York; Abu Dhabi International Science Fair, Abu Dhabi; Edinburgh International Science Festival, National Museum Scotland, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.The Department of Art at A&M-Corpus Christi hosts various nationally and internationally known artist throughout the year as part of their Visiting Artist Series. The Weil Gallery, which opened in 1978, has featured many local, national, and international artists throughout its long history, along with the Islander Art Gallery, which opened in 2005 in the Hamlin Shopping Center. To learn more about the University galleries, visit http://cla.tamucc.edu/art/gallery/art_galleries.html.