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Carmen Menza
Carneal Simmons Contemporary Art, Dallas, Texas
Recommendation by John Zotos

Carmen Menza, "Unfolding the Sun 2 (Cerulean Half Circle)," 2019, aluminum, mixed media, acrylic, LEDs an transformer, 51 x 26 x 3 1/2"

Continuing through June 8, 2019

This immersive exhibition of Carmen Menza’s new work includes thirteen of her mixed media light sculpture paintings, along with a compelling video titled “Under the Sun.” This vibrant work features an original musical score combined with visuals that saturate the gallery in bold colors.  With the shades pulled down, and little or no source of artificial light, the stage is set for an experience bathed in color and sound. Constructed with mixed media, LEDs, acrylic paint, and transformers, wall hanging sculptures like “200 Degrees Fahrenheit 2” and “Aurora Borealis (You are My Sun)” bring the Light and Space aesthetic into the 21st century. Undulating blue and green light rays project into the gallery space, similar to the effects she favors in public art works.  

Menza makes good use of the circular form to advance the works’ impact. She varies their formal aspects through bisection into half circles that face off in gold and cerulean, as in “Unfolding the Sun 2 (Cerulean Half Circle).” In “Under This Moon 1” a row of three long tube shaped screens hang vertically, their decidedly green hues crosshatched by floating red lines that balance the rhythm of the ensemble. A soothing feeling eminates, attesting to the power of retinal art, as well as encouraging a consideration of phenomenology and light metaphysics. Menza has used the word “participatory” to describe how she seeks to set her work in motion. The notion of the polis in Greek philosophy was suggestive of a space where meaning and political action were fleshed out through social and group interaction. It is within this arena that Menza situates her work, offering an antidote to a time that has forgotten how beauty, the human presence, and a civil use of language can enrich the human condition.  

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