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In Visible Light

In Visible Light

Concept by Sally Curcio

Design and Construction by Sally Curcio and Jacob Peters


In Visible Light is a large-scale illuminated sculptural work of art (40’ circumference) that was on view at Hampden Gallery’s Sculpture Garden. The work is supported by Hampden Gallery’s Collaborative Outreach Program. This new program facilitates collaborations between MFA Students and other members of the UMass community. These collaborations entail various aspects of conceiving, designing, and constructing a work for exhibition at Hampden Gallery.

For 2021, the project In Visible Light was conceived by Sally Curcio, at the time Hampden Gallery’s Interim Director, who engaged first year MFA student Jacob Peters to collaborate with her in the design and construction of the sculpture. The sculpture was created during the coronavirus pandemic.

The sculpture consists of two suspended illuminated metal semi-circles that, once connecting the exterior of the outdoor Sculpture Garden with the interior of the Gallery, appear whole. The circle creates the illusion of breaking through the barrier of glass and inhabiting both the interior and exterior of the gallery. This unexpected connection brings an awareness of glass as a barrier, addressing the binaries of inside/outside, exclusion/inclusion, separation/connectedness, darkness/light, and sorrow/hope, all of which are exacerbated by the pandemic.

We have all experienced unexpected isolation with new limitations and boundaries. While the gallery doors were closed to the campus community due to the coronavirus pandemic, the sculpture reached out as a beacon of hope, while acknowledging the constraints and challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through light as both medium and subject, In Visible Light seeks to illuminate the physical darkness of the shorter days of the year, as well as the emotional darkness brought about by the pandemic.

The symbolic, circular shape further conveys a message of re-connection and unity. The circle historically represents vitality, wholeness, completion and the cyclical. In In Visible Light, the two semicircles in the installation remain separate yet appear to merge and become one creating a unified circle. This Illusion of the completed circle creates an uncanny experience where the object does not appear or function as one would expect and therefore provides unfamiliar yet potent insights. The isolating inaccessibility of the gallery is transformed by the cathartic experience of witnessing a circle of light penetrate the physical barrier of glass windows. This draws out a sense of space, freedom and optimism.

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