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Summer exhibitions at Burlington City Arts expand beyond gallery walls to Burlington's Moran Plant
Sam Falls, (work in progress image).

BURLINGTON, VT.- Burlington City Arts announces two contemporary exhibitions at The BCA Center, Los Angeles based visual artist Sam Falls, and Vermont based Sarah O Donnell. Sam Falls present video and sculpture created at his family home in Stowe, Vermont. Sarah O Donnell presents A Visible Night, a light installation inside the top floor of the Moran Plant on Burlington’s Waterfront, with video projections on the Second Floor of The BCA Center. Both exhibitions run through September 21, 2013.

Sam Falls
While often finding its expression in sculpture and painting, Sam Falls’ work can be best understood as stemming from the expanded concerns of photography: the simple effects of light on material, the physical indication of time— frozen, passing, or past. The artist, in effect, allows objects to act as the camera simplifying and demystifying the still-potent magic of the photographic image. With these works, many made here in Vermont, Falls also expands the notion of landscape to directly incorporate humble materials such as hay, two-by-fours, logs and cinderblocks, and to emphasize the effects of rain, snow and sunlight on their surfaces. Full Kodachrome-worthy color also gets its due, with naturally-derived dyes and pigments poured, dripped and sluiced through crude apertures in garden hose, or down a length of twine or rope. These are simple mechanisms producing chance-driven whorls of color that mimic painting, but without the brushstroke as an extension of the artist’s hand. Falls’ bright and funny dyed hay bales are a simple but powerful intervention into a familiar symbol of country living. This is a gesture that enlivens the lowly material—highlighting and re-framing it without overpowering its gritty texture or rustic associations, and the sculptures act as technicolorized images of themselves. Two videos presented here, close the circle and return to a more literal expression of photography. High-definition footage of Vermont lightning storms, these works, paradoxically, employ digital data in the service bring the power and poetry of nature into the exhibition space.

Sam Falls lives and works in Los Angeles. He received his Masters in Fine Arts from ICP-Bard in New York City. Sam is represented by Metro Pictures. His work has been exhibited in New York, Los Angeles, London, Amsterdam, Lisbon and Madrid. His work has been featured in publications such as Art In America, ArtForum, Forbes, Harper’s Bazaar and The New Your Times Magazine.

Sarah O Donnell
From horror films to stories of neighborhood gentrification, abandoned structures are concrete symbols of our past and fertile territory to continuously re-imagine our future. Known for her light-based installations that use mysterious buildings to explore place, isolation, and the tension between still photography and the moving image, Sarah O Donnell’s BCA exhibition A Visible Night focuses on Burlington’s Moran Plant.

Named for Burlington mayor J.E. Moran, the Moran Plant was a 30-megawatt power plant built on Burlington’s waterfront to address a series of power shortages in the late 1940s. Construction on the building began in 1952 and, after a series of unforeseen complications, Moran was fully operable in the summer of 1955. Since its construction, the plant has occupied a conflicted place in the history of Burlington. At first Moran was a symbol of resourcefulness as it addressed power shortage issues and kept Burlington with electricity during the Northeast Blackout of 1965. But, its pollution billowing smokestacks quickly made it a controversial figure until the plant’s decommissioning in 1986.

O Donnell’s installation continues to fuel the ongoing dialogue about the Moran Plant. To acknowledge the story of Moran, O Donnell has installed colored silks across the 18 windows on the sixth and top floor of the building. These silks function similarly to stained glass windows, used historically to depict biblical stories through images at a time when many people were not able to read. O Donnell does not provide an image for the windows. Instead, she leaves only a spectrum of color. Her reductive and minimalist stained “glass” windows do not provide a narrative; they draw attention to the building and then recede allowing Moran to be the sole focus of our attention. By placing colors in the windows, the building becomes the camera and the projector. During the day, the sun streams in and illuminates the space. At night, the lights inside of the building project the spectrum of color into the world. Because the building is not safe for visitors, O Donnell has established a video feed from the sixth floor of Moran into the second floor Roth Gallery at BCA.

Sarah O Donnell, born in Killybegs, Ireland, lives and works in Burlington, Vermont and Philadelphia and works in a range of media including film, video, installation, photography and sculpture. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Sculpture from the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, PA in 2007, where she received the Edith Weil Hecht Memorial Award in Sculpture. She also received a Masters in Fine Art in Sculpture from Ohio State University in 2012.

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