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Window into Houston — Bret Shirley: Rising Through the Infinite


Bret Shirley is interested in the metaphorical and practical value of crystals as objects of healing and empowerment that carry within them associations of clairvoyance and wisdom, sexual vitality and mental balance, power and prosperity. Rising Through the Infinite, his installation at downtown Houston’s 110 Milam Street for the Blaffer Art Museum exhibition series Window into Houston, plays off what Shirley calls “the intersection of use-value” within crystals as objects that belong both to the realm of the aesthetic (or even decorative) and functional (even if only imagined).

Shirley combines paintings and sculptures made of lab-grown inorganic crystals with resin and fiberglass-reinforced concrete casts of human and hominid bones. The material make-up of the bone casts is called into question by the application of highly reflective and color variable automotive paint. Rather than emphasizing their organic quality or origin, the shiny, shifting metallic and oily surfaces transport them into the realm of the metaphorical or imaginary, connecting their “use-value” with that of the crystals as one located between reality and fiction.

Changing LED lights mounted out of sight imbue the windows with light and color, creating the illusion of paintings and objects floating in space. Absorptive and weightless, Rising Through the Infinite connects ideas of transience (of existence) with ideas of the eternal (of hope) in the hopes to convey a moment of transcendence.

The exhibition kicks off with a reception from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 18, and continues through May 6.

Window into Houston is made possible with generous support from Jim Petersen, Jr. Launched in 2011, Window into Houston is a series of site-specific exhibitions commissioned by Blaffer Art Museum. Located in downtown Houston and viewed from the street and sidewalk, Window into Houston highlights the most recent developments in Houston’s artistic landscape and reaches out to a broad and diverse audience to engage them in a dialogue about contemporary art made in Houston.