Rather than viewing regular white gallery walls with a series of paintings from corner to corner, guests had the opportunity to walk through an exhibit filled with flowers, plants and foliage galore at the Final Friday event on Nov. 25 in the Steckline Gallery.
After two weeks spent creating their piece and preparing the gallery for viewing, Wichita artists Hallie Linnebur and Meghan Miller presented their “Mystery Room” exhibit. The artists invented their own assortment of botanic pieces in nature by using materials such as iridescent cellophane, translucent plastic and tissue paper “ordered in every color of the rainbow,” Miller said.
The gallery was filled with colorful leaves, glowing fruits, spiked crystals and more. The limited amount of light within the exhibit allowed for each piece to shimmer and gleam, making the forestry appear alive.
“We wanted to make an immersive installation that would create an experience for our viewers,” Miller said. “[Linnebur and I] have a fascination with fantasy, imagination and share a love for national and state parks, so we decided to combine these ideas and take it to the next level by adding a galactic feel to it.”
Linnebur and Miller distributed “Seraphim Crest Supernature Trail Guides” to all attendees that aided in their exploration of the exhibit. Sketches of twelve types of plants were numbered and listed with their functions so that guests could search throughout the exhibit to discover the rare items in nature. The artists even gave attendees the opportunity to name a newly discovered plant at the start of their tour, offering the winner recognition by the “scientific community of the Reignglora Galaxy.”
“It was fantastic, creepy, and felt like I was on the set of Star Trek — which is very high praise,” said Chair of the Arts and Letters Division Bryan Dietrich, Ph.D. “It is this deep immersion into art and experiencing another world that truly allows us to rethink how we live and see the world we live in.”
In addition to exploring the enchanted forestry, guests were able to meet Josie, the “Prism Bear of the forests of Reignglora.” These Prism Bears are defined by Linnebur and Miller as “large, multi-colored bipedal humanoid caniforms that are believed to have served as guardians to Reignglora’s most beautiful and awe-inspiring natural landscapes.”
Mike Miller, husband of artist Meghan Miller and adjunct professor for sculpture at Newman University shared that, “A lot of work goes into creating an immersive installation art piece. The artists covered the walls, controlled the lighting, worked wonderfully with colors and even gave viewers literature to explain what you’re experiencing as you walk through the exhibit. I really appreciate what they were able to do with this piece.”
Linnebur and Miller said they plan to continue this type of artwork in the future.
“We’ve been doing performance and installation art for three years now and are hoping it will continue to grow,” Miller said. “Be sure to keep your eye out for more mystery rooms.”