Gallery Openings and Events

Gibbs Street Gallery at VisArts Presents Heather Harvey Feynman’s Sister and Other Space Weather Hazards

Photo courtesy of VisArts.

Photo courtesy of VisArts.

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Opening Reception: Friday, October 16 from 7pm to 9pm

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The playful poetics of Harvey’s exhibition in the Gibbs Street Gallery at VisArts combines a youthful exuberance for scientific discovery, with the sober ordering intelligence of a well-trained scientist, undergirded with an ethical inquiry into invisible and often coercive social and familial infrastructures. The installation is informed by the life and research of astrophysicist Joan Feynman who is the younger sister of Nobel Prize winning, Richard. Both siblings exhibited an early facility for science, but Joan’s life trajectory was more circuitous than her brother’s and markedly constrained by her gender. She nevertheless succeeded in making substantial contributions to our understanding of solar weather and its impact on earth, including the Aurora Phenomenon.

Allusions to Joan Feynman’s research and life wend their way through the installation. For example, Harvey includes the original edition of Astronomy the college textbook 14 year-old Joan studied (this text was a birthday gift from her ever-encouraging college-aged brother). Also incorporated is the life-changing illustration by female scientist Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin. A young Joan stumbled onto this graphic, which for her signaled that women could indeed be successful scientists despite what she had been told. The installation is a playfully explosive though systematically ordered collection of found objects that Harvey gleans during her daily walking art practice. It is marked both by resilient jouissance in response to the sheer beauty and complexity of the physical world, yet measured and mitigated by the inescapable limitations meted out to each of us through the particularities of birthright and fate.

The exhibition title alludes to Virginia Woolf’s fictional character, Judith, in A Room of One’s Own. Woolf meditates on the fate of “Shakespeare’s Sister” who had all of the brilliance but none of the social support that her brother enjoyed.

Gallery Hours:

  • Wednesday – Thursday: noon to 4pm
  • Friday: noon to 8pm
  • Saturday – Sunday: noon to 4pm

VisArts at Rockville is located three blocks from the Rockville Metro station at 155 Gibbs Street, Rockville, MD. For information, please visit www.visartscenter.org or call 301-315-8200.

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