Interactive illusion featured in new exhibition at Walton Arts Center

A large-scale interactive installation by artist Dylan DeWitt generates an optical illusion allowing two people to simultaneously see themselves in the same image. (Dylan DeWitt, Reflexion, 2019)

A large-scale interactive installation will soon be on display at the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville.

The work is part of a new visual arts exhibition called Currents, featuring works by Dylan DeWitt and Kasey Ramirez, which will debut at the center’s Joy Pratt Markham Gallery at 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 12. Once open, the exhibition will run through Sept. 25.

The works are presented in partnership with the University of Arkansas School of Art and curated by Gerry Snyder, executive director and distinguished professor of art at the university.

DeWitt’s interactive Reflexion piece generates an optical illusion that allows a pair of viewers to simultaneously perceive themselves and one another in the same image.

DeWitt’s said the idea came from inspiration in part by the work of neuroscientist V. S. Ramachandran, whose mirror-box therapy has helped treat amputee patients who feel pain in limbs no longer attached to their bodies.

(Dylan DeWitt, Reflexion, 2019)

“I see Reflexion as related to Ramachandran’s box, providing an analogous form of therapeutic illusion—this time at a social level rather than an individually neurological one,” DeWitt said. “Instead of reconnecting the subject with a missing limb, this box connects the subject to a whole other body. Reflexion seeks to frame empathic interaction as a fundamental unit of social fabric.”

DeWitt has taught at the University of Arkansas School of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, and Hartford Art School.

Ramirez’s prints and drawings explore the tension between stability and impermanence by placing architectural structures in consuming environments, according to the arts center.

“Recently I have returned to the immediacy of drawing to explore this sense of devastation and looming atmosphere,” Ramirez said. “By using charcoal, soot, ink and other organic residue, the drawings reference their subjects—oppressive air, water, or destructive fire. I seek to create a sense of time and turmoil through repeated gestures of accumulation and removal.”

(Kasey Ramirez, Pier, charcoal on gessoed paper, 2020)

Ramirez was among the first recipients of an Artists 360 program grant from the Mid America Art Alliance in 2018. She currently serves as assistant professor and head of printmaking at Hartford Art School.