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Sunday, July 05, 2020 — Houston, TX °

Emily Nichol

NEWS 4/10/13 7:00pm

Chain-link ripples with radiance in "Unwoven Light"

Soo Sunny Park's converts Rice Gallery into a landscape of surreal, shining space with her new installation "Unwoven Light," which opened Thursday, April 11.The work, constructed of chain-link fencing suspended from the ceiling and filled with tinted acrylic plexiglass pieces, swells and billows throughout the gallery. Light reflects off of each plexiglass diamond individually, making each piece shift from deep purple to magenta, from chartreuse to turquoise and bright yellow. Refractions of multicolored light and the shadows of each sculptural unit creep up the wall and smatter across the floor, rising, falling and changing color as the natural light that filters into the gallery changes. The work twists and undulates in the space, a dynamic fusion of natural impulses - it is reminiscent of fish scales or exotic bird feathers - and pure abstraction. As visitors walk through the gallery, their own viewing angles as well as how the synthetic and natural light hits the work determines how it looks for them, creating a wholly singular, personal viewing experience.Park uses the light itself as a sculptural element; the reflections are as captivating as the sculptural units. In thinking about the project, Park said she was fascinated by the concept of light as a medium. "The idea is that light is everywhere; you can't see without light. But you don't think about it," Park said. While the gallery is lit by artificial light sources -  LED lights and spotlights - natural light also penetrates into the gallery space, making its own effects with each cloud's passage. With this piece, the viewer cannot help noticing the light filtering through each shining acrylic piece. The work, which extends outside the boundaries of the gallery's glass walls, invites the viewer into a larger-than-life kaleidoscope. Indeed, Park said she had another kind of scope in mind when creating her project."As the sunlight comes through, you'll see things like when you look through a microscope and you can see all the cells ... When a ray of sunlight comes through, you can see all these crisp circles all over the walls," Park said. Much of the piece is left up to natural phenomena - the angle and intensity of the sunlight - which Park said is one of her artistic interests.Park said that, throughout her work, she has been interested in boundaries and the space between the mind and body. Charged by her own childhood experiences in Korea, as well as facing the challenge of learning English after moving to the states, Park said she has been investigating liminal spaces. "I think that thoughts don't exist in English or Korean, but that they have their own language," Park said. "They exist in an in-between space, between two things. With this project, I use translucent material and also this light that is here but we aren't conscious of. By filtering it through, we see this kind of barrier or skin that lets us think about how this space differs from others.""Unwoven Light" invites the viewer to not just witness, but also participate in this in-between space where light turns from invisible to visible, to physically be in the space and become conscious of the light passing through a filter.Park's meticulous work on each unit is evident. Without any poles or skeleton materials, the chain-link fence needed to be welded at each joint to stay in each meandering shape, a difficult task for such thin metal. Each of the 37 units required hundreds of perfectly administered welding joints. Furthermore, every single piece of plexiglass, of which there are thousands, had to be cut into one of nine shapes, sanded on both sides and have two holes drill pressed before being wired by hand into the fencing. Somehow, the execution looks effortless and floats as if it were a natural found object. Park said she chose the chain-link fence as her medium because it is common but mysterious. "Everyone has seen it all their lives ..., but one day, I was just driving, and I saw something that looked like it was floating, but as I got closer, I realized it was just stuck into the chain-link fence," Park said.Park said the graceful whorls of each sculptural unit were actually not her original idea for their shape. "I originally wanted a spherical form, but the fence is rectilinear, and if gives one way, it doesn't want to fold the other," Park said.Park said that in the end, she was inspired by the mountains and rolling hills of Vermont and New Hampshire, where she lives. She said inspiration also came to her from other natural phenomena, like billowing waves and rippling water.The twinkling sculptural bodies and ethereal, constantly changing light-effects of "Unwoven Light" produce a truly absorbing sensory experience. By mixing everyday materials with a touch of the organic, Park has created an ever-changing, life-size rainbow that speaks as much about the human experience of light as it does about the enchanting nature of art. The installation will be open April 11-Aug. 30 2013. Gallery admission and events are free and open to the public.

NEWS 9/13/12 7:00pm

Plenty to swallow at Sparrow

Renowned local chef Monica Pope, whose prepackaged fare often fills a stall at the Rice University Farmer's Market, has completely overhauled her restaurant t'afia, now reimagined in the same location as Sparrow Bar + Corkshop. Nestled in the same midtown bungalow bestrewn with rope-lights, Sparrow presents Pope's commitment to locally sourced, seasonal flavors with a creatively exotic spin. In walking distance from the METRORail, Sparrow's environment mixes hip edginess with rustic romance. Alchemic touches, like water served out of Erlenmeyer flasks and salt stored in test tubes, lie atop dark, unfinished slab tables adorned with fresh wildflowers. Warm lighting emanates from glowing birdcage lanterns that hang from low ceiling beams and against exposed brick walls, and cushy red banquettes lend to an intimate homey environment. Roughly textured napkins give a tactile, rugged country feel. No detail goes overlooked; even the dessert menu arrived in a cute package, a note folded like something your third-grade crush might have handed you. The mellower sides of the Talking Heads and the Clash played softly over the din of forks, as well as some vaguely familiar acoustic Nirvana covers. It feels like Sparrow is trying to create some idealized home you never had. The food menu changes nightly, but the the wine and cocktail menus are solidly in place. The wine options are extensive, but they tend to get a bit pricey. The bar's main calling, besides the ultra-cool environment, are the $10 cocktails - nothing too creative or extraordinary, but sipped in a fancy cup in a cool place so close to the light rail, they are worth it. The food also was a tad pricey, with entrees starting at around $15. The dishes billed as smaller plates are generally savory enough to be eaten alone as a hearty bar snack or combined for a full meal. One of the tragic exceptions to this truth, however, was the shiitake mushroom dumplings plate, which was covered in a creamy blue cheese, honey and mascarpone sauce. Four petite lumps sat in the soupy sauce, but despite their rather sad appearance, the salty, earthy mushrooms blended perfectly with the sweet, cheesy sauce. One of the best sides was the crunchy brussels sprouts with miso glaze, which truly was life-changing to a self-declared brussels sprouts hater. The sprouts were grilled until they were slightly burned, which seemed to cure them of their usually detestable bitterness and made them delectably tender. Covering them with the sweet and sticky miso sauce made them as easy to pop in your mouth as candy. The Mac n' Cheese, which was served carbonara-style with peas and speck (juniper-flavored ham), was also especially rib-sticking, with a portion substantial enough to be an entire meal in itself. Perfectly al dente orecchiette pasta was the perfect medium for scooping up the salty egg and parmesan sauce in a classy, grown-up reinvention of the comfort-food classic. For an energetic bar and creative homestyle snacking, Sparrow is your place. It is definitely not the best place near campus to get the most out of your dollar, but it is worth a visit if you have something to celebrate - or you are just looking for an excuse to dress up and blow a little cash.

NEWS 8/30/12 7:00pm

Sweet Paris crepes are no faux fare

When I got back to Houston from studying abroad in France this spring, I knew there was one thing I would miss more than the boulevards, the tulips or the Eiffel Tower: the crepes. I thought my crepe withdrawal would be incur- able, but lo and behold, mere walking distance from campus is Sweet Paris, a brand new crepe restaurant in Rice Village.

NEWS 11/1/11 7:00pm

Olsen sister impresses in first full-length feature

The landscape is barren with a few stacks of hay, and somehow it looks very, very cold. Something about the farm looks uninviting, dangerous even; it feels uncomfortable and makes your skin crawl, even though nothing out of the ordinary is happening. This is the unnerving setting for the commune that title character Martha joins in Martha Marcy May Marlene, a new film that pushes the boundaries of independent-film tropes.

NEWS 10/31/11 7:00pm

Online Only: The Rum Diary, a hazy adaptation

Ginsberg said it best: "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness/starving hysterical naked through the streets at dawn looking for an angry fix," and so Hunter S. Thompson, author of the The Rum Diary, the book that served as the inspiration for this movie, lived :raving, cynical and relevant. HST gave birth to gonzo journalism, a fast-paced, gritty writing that places the journalist at the epicenter of the story, in search of "truth," a fix to appease the deadline, often slathered in alcohol and drugs. That all came later, post the 1959 manuscript that lay fallow until 1998, when it was finally published under the name The Rum Diary.

NEWS 8/20/11 7:00pm

Welcome to the A@E section

Congratulations, new students. You have proven yourself to be among the most intelligent of this campus' population; no, not for the many essays you've written or your immaculate SAT scores, but for picking up the very first issue of this year's Rice Thresher and turning to the very best section in it! The Arts & Entertainment section, generally located in the very heart of the paper around page 10, is loaded every week with reviews of the latest movies, college performances, and even delicious places to eat close to campus. Also, every week this section includes a handy list of the coolest events happening off-campus, called The Weekly Scene. We even run semi-regular columns with interviews, opinions about music, movies and topics that wouldn't normally fit in other sections, like fashion or fine art. Instead of only dealing with events at Rice like the News or Sports sections, A&E will keep you connected to the Houston area, and guarantee that you never sit alone in your room on a Saturday night just because you don't know what else to do.

NEWS 8/20/11 7:00pm

It opens at the close

The summer after I turned eight, my father handed me a paperback book during a routine weekend trip to the beach. I flat out rejected it — Why would I, an eight year old girl who loved floral dresses and ballet, want to read a book with a boy on the cover? Not put out by his already angsty daughter's stubbornness, my father decided to begin to read the story out loud along with my little brother, who was then starting first grade and who happened to be sharing a room with me. The next day, my father found that I had sneaked the book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, from my brother's bedside and claimed the novel as my own, as would countless other children throughout the world over the next 12, and hopefully more, years. This July, along with a record-breaking number of other viewers, I eased into a plush theater seat and braced myself for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, wondering if this film marked the end of an era or the beginning of a new tradition of entertainment.