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The Nature of Color a “Must See” at The American Museum of Natural History

The Nature of Color a “Must See” at The American Museum of Natural History

Fifth grade students for NYC PS 87 in Manhattan are seen silhouetted against a backdrop of colors and shadows at The American Museum of Natural History’s newest exhibit, The Nature of Color Photo by Brian Hester

An exciting interactive new exhibit, “The Nature of Color”, opens at the American Museum of Natural History on March 9, 2020 with Museum members and press getting exclusive early access a few days prior to the main opening date. This display features several components; interactive hands on displays, A fabulous Red section featuring an exclusive Brandon Maxwell dress and an amazing installation of work by Brazilian photographer Angelica Dass entitled Humanae.

An in-depth exploration of color and our world, this masterfully curated display asks the viewer to imagine a world without color. The interactive pieces help patrons deconstruct color and then reimagine how certain hues permeate our inner psyche and how tones and highlights can control so many aspects of everyday existence. One of the displays allow visitors to move filters and prisms that are attached to a wall with magnetic bases underneath bright white spotlights. The effect needs to be seen in person to capture the full feeling.

Fifth grade students for NYC PS 87 in Manhattan explore colors and shadows at The American Museum of Natural History’s newest exhibit, The Nature of Color Photo by Brian Hester

In addition to the exploration of colors as relates to emotions and preconceived notions, museum exhibit curator Rob DeSalle explained, “We wouldn’t have colors if it weren’t for physics. We wouldn’t have colors if it weren’t for the evolutionary process. We wouldn’t have colors if it weren’t for the cultural attitudes of people.”

Lauri Holderman, VP of Exhibits for The American Museum of Natural History, was kind enough to model her rainbow striped purse as it appears to change color underneath various light. Photo by Brian Hester
Lauri Holderman, VP of Exhibits for The American Museum of Natural History, was kind enough to model her rainbow striped purse as it appears to change color underneath various light. Photo by Brian Hester
Students from NYC PS 87 utilize the hands on kiosk to change the color being displayed on the floor and ceiling to a wide variety of patterns and combinations as classmate dance in the light. Photo by Brian Hester

The Nature of Color, part of the American Museum of Natural History’s 150th anniversary celebration, reveals how color carries information in nature—where organisms use it to find food, warn off predators, and conceal or reveal themselves—and across cultures, where different colors can signal a wide range of meanings, from good luck to power to a sense of urgency.

Prisms and filters attached to a wall with magnetic bases to allow for movement and adjustment by visitors. They are underneath bright white spotlights which allows patrons to experiment with bending, redirecting and seperating the many colors that make up white light. Photo by Brian Hester

”Color is all around us, shaping our emotions, our actions, and our surroundings, yet we often take it for granted,” said Museum President Ellen V. Futter. “This immersive exhibition will explore the role and power of color in the natural world, in human cultures, and in our personal lives. A key component of the Museum’s 150th Anniversary celebration, this exhibition does what the Museum does best: explore the intersection of science, nature, and culture in ways that are engaging and exciting.”

Students from NYC PS 87 in Manhattan follow the writing on the wall and “Play with Light” at the new exhibit, The Nature of Color, at The American Museum of Natural History. Photo by Brian Hester

One section of the display highlights the meaning and emotions associated with color with a focus on the color Red. This portion features a beautiful red dress designed exclusively for this exhibit by world renowned designed Brandon Maxwell. Maxwell unveiled his latest collection during this year’s Fashion Week NY at a show at the Museum. The notion of perception of Red as a power color is evidenced by the religious garments and NCAA athletic football uniforms of the Alabama Crimson Tide. Roll Tide. The inclusion of the sports uniform in the display led to a discussion between myself, another reporter and one of the museum employees that helped create the display, which raised the question of how uniform colors affect the outcome of contests over the long run. Sounds like a question for the stats people over at ESPN. Questioning the overall impact of color of uniform on team performance, we compare the record and success of the Crimson Tide to that of a team closer to home, The Rutgers Scarlet Knights, whose uniform color is slightly different than that of Alabama. Could this be a factor? I did have to mention that as the Rutgers Men’s Basketball team is having one of their best seasons AND they have a Scarlet uniform that the museum should see about including a Rutgers Men’s Basketball jersey to this incredible collection. I will provide the jersey.

An Alabama Crimson Tide NCAA Football uniform is included in the Red section of the exhibit. Photo by Brian Hester
This stunning dress, designed exclusively for the Museum by famed designed Brandon Maxwell, stands out in a room full of Red. Photo by Brian Hester
The color Pink and its use to define the Women’s movement in 2017 juxtaposed with the color becoming much more acceptable for men’s fashion in recent years. Photo by Brian Hester
The exhibit examines how cultures assign identity to colors such as the use of Pink for the Pink Pussy Hats worn by women during marches begining in 2017 and continuing to date. Photo by Brian Hester

One of my personal favorites in this exhibit is the inclusion of the work of Brazilian photographer Angelica Dass. Her work showcases the diversity of human skin tones to challenge socially constructed racial categories and celebrate the beauty and diversity of humans from around the world. Called Humanæ, the constantly evolving projectfeatures portraits on backgrounds tinted with a color tone identical to a sample taken from the nose of the subject and matched with the Pantone palette. The Nature of Color includes a selection from the more than 4,500 portraits that Dass has captured in 35 cities across 20 different countries.

“Humanæ is a pursuit to highlight our true colors rather than the untrue white, red, black or yellow associated with race,” Dass said. “It’s a kind of game to question our codes. It’s a work in progress from a personal story to a global history.”

There will be an open casting call running for three days at the museum for those wishing to take part and be photographed by the incredibly talented artist / photographer on March 9,10 and 11th. For more info on that please visit the Museum site or Humanae Project.

I did have the pleasure of interviewing Angelica Dass at the exhibit. Please see below:

All in all an extremely well curated and thought provoking exhibit that is well worth the visit from anywhere. If you live in the NYC metro area you must take a trip to see this and keep in mind you may see the entire museum on the same trip. If you go solely for The Nature of Color allow yourself a solid two hours to take in all the beauty of this exhibit.

An unidentified woman dances with the light at The Nature of Color exhibit at The American Museum of Natural History. Photo by Brian Hester

Art

Brian Hester is a New York City based freelance photographer covering any nature of event including but not limited to; breaking news, sports, entertainment, fashion, nature and whatever may catch his wandering eye. Since 2011 Brian, has been covering community events and high school sports for North Jersey Media Group and their successor Gannett USA Today. His clients include Rutgers University and Monmouth Athletics. ​You can see more of his work at www.brianbehindthelens.com

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