Bringing artist Josiah McElheny’s Island Universe to the Cantor is a rare opportunity to examine both cutting-edge art and physics. The monumental installation is a visual response to recent theories of the multiverse, an elaboration of the Big Bang theory. The installation is both visually stunning and carefully constructed according to measurements that map the history of time. McElheny worked closely with distinguished Ohio State University professor of astronomy David Weinberg to develop those measurements. The five hanging chandeliers, which incorporate precise scientific calculations, are modeled on the chandeliers of the Metropolitan Opera in New York—iconic midcentury design objects that were made in Vienna in 1965. That year, the first physical evidence for the Big Bang theory became public, launching popular interest in space science. McElheny’s installation—made of chromed metal, transparent handblown glass, and lights— represents potential universes whose dense origins expand outwards.
Watch the conversation between director Susan Dackerman and artist Josiah McElheny
from the March 1 Opening Celebration.
This exhibition is organized by the Cantor Arts Center. We gratefully acknowledge generous support from Maryellie Johnson and Rupert Johnson, Jr. Additional support is provided by the Halperin Exhibitions Fund, the Robert Mondavi Fund, The Clumeck Endowment Fund, the Elizabeth Swindells Hulsey Exhibitions Fund, and the Contemporary Collectors Circle.