‘Mineral’: The exhibit that totally rocks!

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By Elizabeth Nailling

Looking for a cool new way to enjoy your pre-class Starbucks fix when you’ve got a little extra time to spare?

Just walk down the stairs of the Peter Irving Wold Center and check out “Mineral,” the Castrucci Gallery’s inaugural exhibition—the glass-windowed room directly to your right at the bottom of the stairs.

The exhibition was curated by Adrienne Klein, an administrator in the Office of Research at CUNY’s Graduate Center, and features various minerals in fabrication as well as in their natural form.

The exhibit’s most colorful pieces are photographs of three thin slices (8 mm is their real-life width) of crystallized basalt lava taken by Geology Professor Kurt Hollocher.

Because the photographs were taken in cross-polarized light, the minerals’ colors look much more vibrant than their real-life hues.  The resulting photographs resemble a dazzling collage of different colored fabrics.

Aside from their stunning quality, the three photographed slices of hardened lava were extracted from shockingly diverse places—Greenland, Massachusetts and the Moon.

Klein describes her surprise upon her realization of this fact.  “I chose the three pieces for reasons of aesthetics, judging them like any artist would, and then I found out where they were all from.  I was astonished and pleased.”

The exhibit also features many minerals from right around here in the northeast.

A 300 mm silicon wafer displayed in a glass case was manufactured at the IBM chip fabrication facility in East Fishkill, New York. According to Klein, “This wafer would have been extremely valuable when it was made back in 2003.  It was one of the first chips to come out of IBM.  The only reason why it could be donated was because it had a flaw in it.”

Otherwise, the wafer would have been broken down and used as computer chips, demonstrating one of the numerous uses for minerals in modern-day manufacture.

The microscopic metal shaving featured in an extremely magnified photograph at the beginning of the exhibition was actually extracted from the Wold Center construction site, making it a perfect addition to the first exhibit in Wold’s Gallery.

Dove Bradshaw, an in-state artist, employs the natural chemical reactions of minerals to create surprising, ever-evolving pieces like her “Contingency 1990” displayed in the exhibit.

By combining silver, aluminum and liver of sulfur on cotton abaca paper, an ongoing chemical reaction between these three minerals is set into motion.   Thus, the appearance of Bradshaw’s pieces, including “Contingency 1990,” changes in response to temperature and humidity, among other factors.

“The element of chance is what she loves,” explains Klein in reference to Bradshaw’s style.

Bradshaw’s “Contingency 1990” is the only piece that was not created or found at Union, a fact that the curator hopes will make the Union community more aware of the resources that they already have.

“I hope others will have an interest in going through Union’s store rooms and putting some of these valuable things on display.  That is one of the main purposes of this exhibition,” says the exhibition’s curator.

As far as her other reasons for choosing this intriguing theme for the Castrucci Gallery’s inaugural exhibit?

“John Wold, the founder of the building that houses the gallery, dedicated his life to minerals and was named the ‘Minerals Man of the 21st century’ by the state of Wyoming,” says Klein.

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