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Tactile illusions in Susan Metrican's paintings

Posted by Kevin Hartnett  February 12, 2014 11:19 AM

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The visual illusions in Susan Metrican's paintings don't hit you over the head, but once registered, they do call you back for a longer look. Metrican, who lives in Boston, currently has a show called "Susan Metrican: Wavy Panes" at the Sherman Gallery at Boston University. Her work quietly plays with ideas of depth and perception. The painting "Chorus" (the top image below) looks for all the world like a series of shapes cut finely into a thin sheet of paper. In fact, though, the surface of the work is flat, and the appearance of cutouts owes to the careful use of shadow and brushstrokes. Similarly, the one sphere and two hemispheres in "Cult of Horus" (the second image below) appear to be pockmarked with smooth, shallow holes, like hardened magma, maybe, or rocks nibbled at for eons by the briny sea. Really, though, the whole presentation is just acrylic paint, save the two tufts of horse hair hanging below, like a punch line.

"Susan Metrican: Wavy Panes" runs at the Sherman Gallery, George Sherman Union, 775 Commonwealth Ave., second floor, through March 7.

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Images courtesy of the Sherman Gallery at Boston University.

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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
Brainiac blogger Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Columbia, South Carolina. He can be reached here.

Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.

Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.

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Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.

Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."

Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.

Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.


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