Coming Home-Paintings by Barbara Stahl

Coming Home: Paintings by Barbara Stahl

New Work, New Installation to December 2


Barbara Burnett Stahl talks to a gallery visitor about her work during the busy Opening Reception on September 1.  For this November’s First Friday Art Walk, ASV has added still more works to the installation and reconfigured the entire exhibition!

Living with artworks allows us to see ever-evolving and shifting meaning in the work.  This will be our third month of exhibiting the paintings of Vincennes native Barbara Stahl.  We are adding new pieces that haven’t been seen yet, and also reconfiguring the installation so that different works can be seen in relation to each other.

Here is a deeper dive into Stahl’s thinking about her work:
In the artist statement for her Indianapolis exhibition Biocentric Landscapes at Gallery 924, Stahl refers to the quantum mechanics “double slit” experiment, connecting the role of the observer in this scientific experiment to the role of the observer who interacts with a work of art.

The English physicist Thomas Young originally devised the double-slit experiment in 1801.  He observed the behavior of sunlight as it passed through slits in a screen, noting that the light functioned both as if comprised of particles and as if comprised of waves depending on the size of the slits and the proximity of the screen to the wall onto which the light fell.  His conclusion was that light has both a wave nature or characteristic and a particle nature or characteristic and that these natures exist simultaneously and are inseparable.  Thus, light is said to have a wave-particle duality, rather than being only a wave or only a particle.


Large particles tend to act in predictable ways in our ordinary experience. Shooting little balls randomly through one or two slits form marks on the screen beyond the slits, marks that echo the shape of the slits. Water is slightly different. It behaves like a wave. When it goes through a slit, it creates an arching ripple, the apex of which hits the screen at a point that is represented by the vertical line on the screen. But with two slits, two waves intersect creating disturbance points at each intersection, which are represented by multiple vertical lines on the screen. At the quantum level, a photon can do both, depending on whether it is being measured or not! What! This doesn’t make sense in the realm of our normal experience! This is one of the mysteries of Quantum physics. (These images are adapted stills from the clip, called Dr. Quantum-Doble Slit Experiment uploaded onto Youtube.com by Bob Cameran, Sept 13, 2006, and is an excerpt from: “What The Bleep Do We Know!?: Down The Rabbit Hole” and is used for educational purposes. http://www.whatthebleep.com/.)


At Bell labs beginning in 1927, Clinton Davisson and Lester Germer were able to refine this experiment by firing slow-moving electrons through a double-slit screen, which created an interference pattern indicating wave nature.  Their results confirmed Young’s observations.  In addition, the mysterious and still-unexplained discovery was made that observing and measuring the movement of the electrons through the double-slit screen caused them to behave as particles rather than waves.  The process of observation and measuring altered the outcome of the experiment.

Shift to considering Barbara Stahl’s painting I Wonder What the Raindrop Learns Before It Hits the Ground.  You see before you a complex array of patterns and colors that can suggest recognizable subject matter.  But what you recognize will be different from what others see.  You, the observer affects the meaning of the painting by observing and thinking about it.  What you perceive in the work becomes a statement unique to your understanding and personal context.

Stahl states: “With these paintings, I explore the boundaries between the abstract and non-objective, suggesting, yet not fully describing the imagery. In many places the work is ambiguous and leaves room for individual interpretation; observer interaction.  It is this act of observing, of seeing something in the work, [which] you can’t un-see, that I find analogous to the wave function collapse that occurs in the famous double slit experiment when photons of light are observed.

How does this carry over to life outside the gallery?  Perhaps after immersion into Stahl’s world of shapes, colors and compositional choices, which we have taken in and interpreted, we can be more aware of how uniquely we see and interpret all that is around us.  How often has someone walking right next to us noticed something of interest that we literally didn’t see at all?  Such awareness might lead us to more careful consideration of how we structure the visual environments in which we live, individually and communally.  It could lead to mind-awakening discussions with others, as we learn how differently (or similarly) we have experienced the same painting,  the same streetscape, or the same reality.

Holiday Schedule This Year

Open Black Friday and Small Business Saturday

Thanksgiving week:

Mon   Closed
Tue    Open !! Noon to 5
Wed   Closed
Thu    Closed
Fri.     Open!! Noon to 5
Sat     Open!! 11 am – 2 pm
For the first time, we will be open for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday!  Put a work of art on your shopping list, then shop for one or more on those two days.  You’ll avoid the crowds elsewhere.
After Thanksgiving Week, we will continue normal gallery hours through Thursday, November 30. On December 1, we will be open until 8 p.m. for the First Friday Art Walk.
Art Space Vincennes will close from December 2 to March 1. The next gallery season for ASV Begins March 2.

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