EMU Professor Anna Westfall's art installation, "In Entropy," is available to view at the Margaret Martin Gehman gallery. (Photos: Macson McGuigan/EMU)

PHOTO GALLERY: Inside the new immersive art installation ‘In Entropy’

Something otherworldly has taken over the Margaret Martin Gehman art gallery.

A black mass appears to swallow up one corner of the gallery, surrounded by a galaxy of orbs the color of coal. Each of these orbs is covered in a unique texture. Some of them resemble cells in the midst of splitting apart. A few look like sunflower heads, pieces of coral or jellyfish. Others take on the appearance of an alien lifeform, covered in lumps and bumps or dimples and craters.

The orbs snake their way along the walls of the gallery and stretch out across its floor, inviting visitors to step through the installation and examine it from every angle. An array of lights bathes the ceramic art pieces in red, orange, yellow and green hues.

The mixed-media installation, titled In Entropy, is the work of Anna Westfall, associate professor of visual and communication arts (VaCA) at EMU. She created the pieces mostly from clay and bicycle tires to “provide the viewer with a multisensory experience through an altered space,” an artist statement reads.

Westfall hosted an opening reception for her exhibition at the gallery at 4 p.m. on Friday. About 50 people braved that morning’s snowfall to attend the reception, which included an introduction from her about the installation and the process in creating it.

She said she was inspired by looking at images of cells. As the COVID-19 pandemic arrived and cast the world into uncertainty, she wanted to explore the feelings of disorder and distress that many people felt.

Her statement reads: “The instinct to find order and stability in chaos, as an attempt to gain a sense of peace and control, often brings conflicting outcomes of serenity and anxiety. This installation explores how these experiences influence perceptions of life and challenges found in the mutable nature of existence.”  

In Entropy will be available to view at the Margaret Martin Gehman gallery until Friday, Feb. 16. Westfall will present a university colloquium about her installation and the process in creating it on Wednesday, Feb. 21, at 4 p.m. in Suter Science Center 106.

Westfall received her bachelor’s of fine arts from James Madison University and her master’s of fine arts from the University of New Mexico, both of which were in ceramic and sculpture.

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