Visual Arts

Houston's Jung Center Highlights Our Kaleidoscopic Cosmos

Scenes From Creation by Priscilla Frake is from the "As Above, So Below: Inner and Outer Images of the Cosmos" exhibit at The Jung Center.
Scenes From Creation by Priscilla Frake is from the "As Above, So Below: Inner and Outer Images of the Cosmos" exhibit at The Jung Center. Photo courtesy of the artist and The Jung Center
click to enlarge Scenes From Creation by Priscilla Frake is from the "As Above, So Below: Inner and Outer Images of the Cosmos" exhibit at The Jung Center. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ARTIST AND THE JUNG CENTER
Scenes From Creation by Priscilla Frake is from the "As Above, So Below: Inner and Outer Images of the Cosmos" exhibit at The Jung Center.
Photo courtesy of the artist and The Jung Center
The beginning of everything – we're talking the Big Bang, galaxies, star maps, DNA sequencing and glucose molecules – can be viewed through the rose window of Priscilla Frake's multimedia wall piece, Scenes From Creation. The artist, who was inspired by the stained glass windows of medieval cathedrals, added mystery to the hinged door fronts with fragments of astronomical equations, and embellished the piece with steel, brass, enamel, lapis lazuli and silver.

Frake also mines heavily from the cosmos in creating the remaining sculptures, wall pieces and jewelry found in The Jung Center exhibit "As Above, So Below: Inner and Outer Images of the Cosmos," on display through next Friday. The pieces all beg for a closer look with their old-world feel, detailed artistry and cerebral symbolism.

Hung together, Astrolabe and Particle Physics Brooch and Stand make a fitting pair, marrying instruments from antiquity with modern ephemera like recycled circuit boards and brass watch gears. Just as the ancient tool for locating celestial objects helped humanity find its place in the universe, the artist seeks to show that, even today, we're still trying to understand our place in relation to space and time. In her statement, Frake acknowledges drawing inspiration from American theoretical physicist, mathematician and Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek's A Beautiful Question, as well as the particle accelerator at the European research organization CERN.

click to enlarge The Buddha Keeps the Cosmos in His Suitcase by Priscilla Frake is from the "As Above, So Below: Inner and Outer Images of the Cosmos" exhibit at The Jung Center. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ARTIST AND THE JUNG CENTER
The Buddha Keeps the Cosmos in His Suitcase by Priscilla Frake is from the "As Above, So Below: Inner and Outer Images of the Cosmos" exhibit at The Jung Center.
Photo courtesy of the artist and The Jung Center
An assignment to create an accessory for an 8th-century statue of Buddha from Thailand's Dvaravati period resulted in The Buddha Keeps the Cosmos in His Suitcase. This amalgamation of 24K gold foil, sapphire, mother of pearl and cabinet knobs far exceeds the sum of its parts, creating a fitting traveler's companion for the enlightened teacher.


Antique armillary spheres make an appearance in Planetary Motion – along with pearls, garnets, peridot and clock parts – to create a heavenly and mysterious sculpture under glass. In her artist's statement, Frake states, "The planets in this model are states of mind rather than real celestial bodies."

click to enlarge the smell of geranium makes my memory spin ... (detail) by Leslie Field is from the Kaleidoscope Mandalas series on view in the "Field Explorations" exhibit at The Jung Center. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ARTIST AND THE JUNG CENTER
the smell of geranium makes my memory spin ... (detail) by Leslie Field is from the Kaleidoscope Mandalas series on view in the "Field Explorations" exhibit at The Jung Center.
Photo courtesy of the artist and The Jung Center
Also on view at The Jung Center are five collections of layered photographs by Leslie Field in "Field Explorations." The series include the monochromatic Cosmos Tides and Cosmos Tide Neaps, inspired by the gravitational pull of the sun as it counteracts the pull of the moon; and Kaleidoscope Mandalas, consisting of pie-shaped segments arranged in a circular form and looking very much like what's viewed through the optical instrument favored by children; they're large in scale and lovely. Field includes thoughtful titles that reference orange groves, blue stars, summer leaves and sunflower petals.

click to enlarge #25 (detail) by Leslie Field is from the UR-Forms series on view in the "Field Explorations" exhibit at The Jung Center. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ARTIST AND THE JUNG CENTER
#25 (detail) by Leslie Field is from the UR-Forms series on view in the "Field Explorations" exhibit at The Jung Center.
Photo courtesy of the artist and The Jung Center
The origins of life also are at the root of Field's UR-Forms and UR-Form Passages series, where the photographer creates watercolor-like images of landscapes, flowing lava and portals against grids and cutting mats in nature-inspired palettes of oranges, greens, browns and yellows.

"As Above, So Below: Inner and Outer Images of the Cosmos" and "Field Explorations" are on view through April 28 at The Jung Center, 5200 Montrose, open 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays, 713-524-8253, junghouston.org. Free.
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Susie Tommaney is a contributing writer who enjoys covering the lively arts and culture scene in Houston and surrounding areas, connecting creative makers with the Houston Press readers to make every week a great one.
Contact: Susie Tommaney