Portrait of an Artist: Jesse A. Green and Michael Wang
Jesse A. Green ’02 and Michael Wang ’03, both graduates of the Visual and Environmental Studies Department, have curated shows of their own works in the main gallery of the Carpenter Center for Visual Arts in conjunction with the 50th anniversary celebration of the building. Wang’s exhibit, entitled “Differentiation Series,” features painted-over microscope images of stem cells that he created with Gabriella Boulting of the Kevin Eggan Lab. “Paranoia Places Its Faith in Exposure,” Green’s exhibition, displays over 40 works of video, paintings, drawings and sculpture and photographs. The artists explained how their exhibits relate to the history of the building.
The Harvard Crimson: How did you conceive of and develop your ideas for this show?
Jesse Aron Green: I’m really invested in the ideologies of mid-century art and architecture, and I wanted to engage those ideas, which have a lot to do with vision, ways of seeing and the ability to see through spaces, and the way in which spaces encode bodily habit. When I was in [the Carpenter Center] I had immediately an idea for the central piece, a large video installation projected onto [a] window...that would be rendered invisible during the day because of the light streaming through and would come alive at night and be seen from outside. From that initial hit upon the idea of translucence I started to create a whole body of work related to it.
Michael Wang: I was looking at a book by Sigfried Gideon called “Space Time and Architecture.” He has a section devoted to the Carpenter Center and describes the promise of the building as a place where people would...have a kind of interdisciplinary encounter in which they would explore new visual ideas. I wanted to think about that interdisciplinary promise and what that means today. Around that same time…I met [Gabriella Boulting]. The premise for her work is that artificially induced stem cells can become any cell in the human body. I ended up creating a pigment mixing system that produces 411 different distinct colors, matching the 411 recognized cell types in the human body.
THC: In what ways do you think your experience with this show was influenced by the fact that at one time you were a student taking classes in the building?
MW: I think that my feeling about the building has changed because it does have more of a feeling to me now as almost a museum piece, whereas when you’re in it everyday it’s much more of a kind of functional space…you stop seeing the building as much. Coming back to the building 10 or so years later puts me in a better position to really think about it in properly historical terms.
JAG: A big theme of my show is lineage and influence, not so hidden within that are a lot of references to Harvard and Harvardiana. That was a very self-conscious attempt to engage with the importance of this institution and how it’s influenced me.
THC: How do you think your respective works relate to and complement each other?