ASU Step Gallery
By Suranga De Silva
Slowing down and being present is not an easy thing to integrate into modern life. In this day and age, that practice has become a luxury and the core of the ever-growing topic of mindfulness. The unfortunate reality is our environment; both mental and physical is polluted with media, work, garbage, and an ongoing list of issues. With such an intense amount of stimulation occurring at every second, finding a moment to breathe and remove one’s self from this torrent seems almost impossible.
Enter Aurora, an exhibition fabricated by Lily Reeves to provide us with just that. The installations which compose Aurora, remind us that our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being are all interconnected and by taking moments to commune with ourselves we can achieve states of tranquility, vital to moving through the flow of modern life. Montgomery skillfully sets up situations which immediately transform the viewer into a participant. As one travels through the exhibition all of the senses are engaged, resulting in a slowing of time, providing one with an opportunity for reflection and heightened awareness of themselves and the world around them.
Using a combination of light and smell, the neon gate Aurora and the misty boxes Trust Us, create a relaxing and deeply spiritual environment for the participant. The piece, alludes to the high ceilings, arches, and buttresses found in medieval architecture, using neon in place of traditional building materials. Neon suspended from various heights is formed to look like religious iconography. Each participant is basked in the purple light as they navigate the work, creating a calming atmosphere for investigation.
Walking through Trust Us, it is clear that Reeves crafted this environment with every detail in mind. She even manipulated the air quality of the room, calling attention to the very present issue of air pollution by engaging our sense of smell. An aroma of herbs, mists through the space, purifying it, generated by high tables created by the artist. This smell is a tincture composed of a variety of soothing herbs, which allow the participant to fall deeper into the work. This subtle manipulation of the space is excellently executed by making us more aware of the issues facing us in modern society, as well as suggesting ways to face those issues through cleansing ourselves in both a physical and spiritual nature.
The culminating piece of this exhibition is Revival, a work which fully engages the viewers’ senses and creates an intimate bond between complete strangers. When first approaching this piece a sense of wonder is clear, as each viewer must circumambulate the piece to enter it’s inner chamber. There we find Maga, a spiritual healer whom Reeves partnered with for this piece, creating a powerfully intimate and revealing situation. Maga performs a flower and sound bath for each individual, feeling their energy and altering her ritual for each person. As this occurs, individuals get to watch, and therefore participate, in an extremely intimate and vulnerable moment for the person being healed. Watching the interaction between Maga and the participants and the reaction of those who’ve gone through the process, feels oddly private and open at the same time. However, it is undeniable that each person leaves Revival feeling refreshed with a more positive energy than when they entered.
Aurora, is a strong representation of the need for slowing down and practicing mindfulness in our lives. Reeves strategically sets up and executes scenarios in which we are able to find ourselves and depart with a better sense of being.
Aurora is located at the Arizona State University Step Gallery from April 6th-April 14th.
Find more of her work here: https://www.lilyreeves.com/