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Emily Oren

Perspective and Incarnation

The invention of perspective revolutionized our way of seeing.

On the third floor of the Architecture building at Cooper Union, between the main studio room and the smaller thesis studios, is a hallway that typically features dusty black-and-white prints of architectural works we have studied in history class. They are something to stare at while you wait for your friend to come out of the bathroom. It wasn't until several months ago, when Kerry Rose Shear's artwork went up, that this hallway deserved to be called a "gallery," as it is officially designated.

Shear's work was part of an exhibition that included ten lectures on the history of perspective. The artwork and the lectures together constitute a work in progress that eludes classification: typed pages of research, corrected with lively strokes of watercolor and pen; original poetry with painted illustrations that sometimes bleed into the poems; a very stream-of-consciousness art, but with a specific goal in mind. The writings are about art history, about herself, about Giotto and Saint Francis and Aristotle and deconstruction and all the other subjects that make up this mammoth project she has taken on, the project she calls "Illuminated Perspective: A Mongrel Work in Progress."

Ah-hah! you may be saying about now. Another one of those weird so-called artists, like that woman who appears onstage nude, covered in chocolate, or the guy who painted the Virgin Mary with elephant dung. I'm sorry to disappoint you, but if you are in the mood for a good rant, you'll have to look elsewhere. Kerry Rose Shear is sometimes maddeningly obscure, it's true, but there is nothing phony or self-indulgent or perverse in her quest.

When she's talking to an audience, Shear is never still; her hands move, she shifts and paces and fiddles with a bright purple filmy scarf draped over her all-black ensemble. She begins every lecture as a bundle of nerves, and only gradually warms to her subject and begins to speak freely.

Perspective, she says, was invented as a new way of seeing things:

The journey ...

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