In her exhibition at the Hyde Park Art Center, “From the Offices of Scientists,” Aspen Mays assembles a set of installations inspired by science office spaces. Reminiscent of a theatrical set, her installations “Jellybean Universe,” “Boom!” and “You’re Next” use office materials such as a dry-erase board and cardboard boxes to re-create a scientist’s office. Looming at the center of her exhibition is a giant 850-pound boulder, “Boulder Desk,” mysteriously at the mercy of a weak desk, behind which an encased sign on the wall reads, “If you think you found a meteorite bring it here and we’ll check it to be sure.” Playful and witty, the installation is a diversion from the process-driven photographs that characterize May’s solo exhibition currently on display at the MCA 12 x 12 gallery.
Meticulous, even obsessive in the methodical approach to her photography, Mays subjects the viewer to the prevailing process in science research by collecting and categorizing information. In “Every Leaf,” the artist attempts to photograph every leaf of a tree, a process that takes Mays nearly nine hours to accomplish. Providing the viewer with a kind of visual index and a display of 900 snapshots recognizing leaves of various sizes and hues. In “Einstein’s Rainbow,” Mays borrows every book on Einstein from the inter-library loan system, nearly 1,500 in all, which the artist organizes by color on in various rainbow arches. In the tremendous magnitude of materials from her study of these subjects, Mays’ scrutiny and categorization provides an overwhelming but moving display on the nature of investigation and a curious attempt at making sense of the wealth of information. (Beatrice Smigasiewicz)
Aspen Mays shows at the Museum of Contemporary Art through February 28, and at the Hyde Park Art Center though April 25.