Posted on: September 5, 2018
Origins and Endgames: Nancy Gruver Van Wagoner
Thompson Rivers University Art Gallery
September 10 – September 21
Reception and Artists Talk: Wednesday, September 12, 2018 5 – 7 PM
Monday – Friday 9AM – 5PM
Saturday and Sunday, September 15 and 16
10AM – 5PM
Origins and Endgames is an interactive art show that takes viewers into the wonder of the
billions of years of planetary and bio-geological processes that produced contemporary Earth
and life, with implications for the future of humanity. It doing so, the work explores the
inextricable connection between the minuscule and the enormous, the vast yet fleeting
trajectory of time, and individuality within a collective destiny.
With this exhibition, Geologist and Artist, Gruver Van Wagoner, shares a lifetime of studying
and imaging Earth for her geoscience research. Using photomontage, she juxtaposes fragments
of these images, melding scales of time and size to create new ways of perceiving the planet.
Visitors to this exhibition are presented with a field guide to embark on a tour through images
presented as tapestries, light boxes, projections and sculptures, each revealing a chapter of the
story of Earth. The centre-piece of the gallery, First Life, (shown above) is a photomontage
created from scanning electron microscope images of volcanic glass, mineral fragments, and a
single bacterium. Visitors approach this piece by passing through a procession of woven cotton
tapestries, one of which is produced from hundreds of microscopic images of minerals from
seafloor rocks which Van Wagoner has transformed into the sea of lava that covered the earth
before the formation of the solid crust.
The largest sculpture, Time, is a series of drill core boxes covering most of one wall of the
gallery. These core boxes are filled with 480 hand-thrown ceramic vessels representing the
evolution of Earth’s atmosphere, and major geologic events during the last 4.5 billion years.
Appreciating that the scientific story of Earth is evolving, ceramic vessels may be removed or reordered as new discoveries are made.
In anthropomorphic version of geologic time, visitors may use a computer-based application,
developed with TRU student, Chris Kwiatkowski, to determine their age in Earth-years.
Overall, the exhibition is a cathedral to the scientific story of creation and demise, deliberately
blurring of the boundaries between art and science, gallery and museum, intellect and emotion
because that is the nature of the story and its making.
Nancy Gruver Van Wagoner is a Professor of Geology and volcanologist at Thompson Rivers
University and an artist. Her artwork, which has been presented internationally, is a researchbased
melding of science and art. She holds a MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York,
and a PhD in Geology from Dalhousie University.