Exhibit preview: The stimulating "elsewhere" shows Dana Lynn Harper's originality

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Dana Lynn Harper’s current exhibition “elsewhere,” which showcases a number of her newest mixed-media pieces along with her enduring installation “Bloom Bloom,” captures how the artist found inspiration in a number of ways. Those include “Saved by the Bell” and microscopic science as well as toys and thrift store finds from the late ’80s and early ’90s — and even drag queens.

For “Bloom Bloom,” a magnificent installation — defined by its wow-factor — in the hallway leading into the main gallery space, Harper saw the potential in simple plastic ribbons while walking down the street. By fashioning these strips into wispy, tendril stalactites that hang from the ceiling and walls, Harper constructed an installation belying the modesty of the material.

“I find something and then I figure out what is the potential of this material. What can it do? And how can I manipulate it from its original purpose to create something new. That isn’t immediately recognizable and then when it is, I have some sort of conceptual purpose,” Harper said.

Once you’ve walked through the installation — which viewers will find hard to leave — the gallery is filled with a litany of works, ranging in sizes as little as your pinky finger to as large as a countertop. All are meant to convey a sense of openness and freedom, representative of the artist’s process and mindset.

“The bright colors come naturally, and … make the work accessible. My work is rooted in feminism, and it’s all about giving an equal opportunity to anyone to be able to grab on to something and to relate to it,” she said. “It’s freer, so I guess it’s really about being shameless in expression — shamelessly open, brave. What really inspired me was when I really started to closely follow drag queens. This idea that someone could transform their own identity through color, patterns, wigs, texture and it’s shameless in the best possible way. That’s where I get the courage for this color and neon, in watching these people transform their identity.”

Harper’s “elsewhere” is on view through May 30 — contact The Vanderelli Room for gallery hours — with a closing reception that evening from 8-11 p.m.

The Vanderelli Room

Through May 30

218 McDowell St., Franklinton