New gallery exhibit injects color amid gloomy weather

Benjamin VanHoose

Science intersects with art at the Downtown Gallery’s new exhibit. “Biosynthesis: The Art of Jonah Jacobs and Betsy Cavalier-Casey” opens Thursday, showcasing elaborate sculptures and paintings based on biology.

“It’s the type of work that a lot will get excited about,” said Anderson Turner, art galleries director for the School of Art.

Both Northeast Ohio artists behind the show contributed different elements, the paintings from Cavalier-Casey and sculptures from Jacobs. The sculptures are made from everyday materials — including cardboard, oatmeal and sand — to create what Turner describes as a “new level of impressive.”

“I don’t try to mimic nature but instead capture its structural essence,” Jacobs said. “I distill it down to its basic shapes, then reconstruct it using a diverse set of materials to create organic-looking pieces.”

Cavalier-Casey said her goal was to get visitors to contemplate what exactly they are observing. 

“I enjoy manipulating synthetic materials to appear more of the organic nature,” she said. “Most of my paintings come to life when I begin experimenting with two opposing mediums or materials that don’t traditionally work together.”

“Biosynthesis” features guest curator Rob Lehr, director of marketing and communications at the Canton Museum of Art. Turner, who oversees an average of 40 exhibits each year, said Lehr’s assistance and expertise was appreciated in easing the completion of the project.

Organized by Kent State’s School of Art, the Downtown Gallery is located on East Main Street in Kent. The site hosts several shows throughout the year, including one last summer that highlighted tattoo design.

A reception for the opening of “Biosynthesis” is scheduled for Thursday between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. where visitors may peruse the gallery and meet the artists.

After its debut Thursday, “Biosynthesis” will remain on display until Feb. 25.

“It will be relatable and interesting to lots of students,” Turner said. “And it’s colorful, which is much needed in this gray, wintery time of year.”

Jacobs said he shared that same sentiment.

“There’s nothing like a shot of vibrant color to cure the mid-winter doldrums,” he said.

Benjamin VanHoose is the features editor for The Kent Stater, contact him at [email protected]