Whether it is oil-sprayed spider webs, mushroom spore drawings, or a pewter-cast ant colony, nature has always been at the heart of Jim Toia’s art.
His attempt to capture nature in its numerous forms is the focus of his latest exhibit at the New Jersey State Museum and a feature in last weekend’s New York Times.
From Here to Uncertainty is a mid-career retrospective highlighting Toia’s work from the last 15 years, along with two new pieces, “Entropic Flows,” a 100-foot-long, horizontal tree sculpture, and the “FuturePast” jellyfish installation.
The exhibit will run through Jan. 3, 2016, in the museum’s Riverside Gallery, and Toia will host a gallery walk at 12:10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 13.
“FuturePast” serves as the centerpiece of the exhibit. The installation consists of a cylindrical-shaped saltwater aquarium housed inside a 13-foot hollow log. Fluorescent lights illuminate the jellyfish, which can be viewed through holes in the log. Strings of lights lie on the floor and go on-and-off as visitors explore the space.
The installation is an example of the interdisciplinary work that happens at the College.
Neuroscience major Greg Biggiani ’16 built the aquarium, and mechanical engineering major Andrew Koehler ’16 ran simulations to determine how water might flow in the cylinder. John Gehrig ’16, an electrical and computer engineering major, assisted with the design and construction of the interactive lighting. Finally, alumnus Michael Howard, senior aquarist at Monterey Bay Aquarium, provided guidance on aquarium design and jelly fish rearing.
“I could not have done it without the brainpower that Lafayette was able to provide,” says Toia.