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On Exhibit: It's OK to touch these objects at Troy's Collar Works

On Exhibit: It's OK to touch these objects at Troy's Collar Works

“feel me" is the latest exhibition to open at Collar Works in Troy
On Exhibit: It's OK to touch these objects at Troy's Collar Works
Installation by becca van k included in “Feel Me.” at Collar Works.
Photographer: indiana nash/gazette reporter

We’re often asked to keep a distance from visual art. 

We’re asked to see and not touch. 

In “feel me,” the latest exhibition to open at Collar Works in Troy, we’re asked to do the exact opposite. 

As soon as you walk in the door, you have to reach out and separate the strands of gold tinsel dangling from the ceiling, touching the material and hearing the soft rustle of them. 

Even the title wall is tactile, with letters cut out from sequined fabric. Behind it is an installation that will have any ’90s kid reminiscing. Artist becca van k created a bedroom scene with a bright orange inflatable chair, mismatched pillows, and faux plants settled into fluffy and furry vases. 

Surrounding the scene are works made of collaged fabrics that are meant to be felt (a nearby sign asks viewers to “please touch with clean hands and an open heart.”) From the velvet to the faux leather, each fabric brings back a tactile memory. 

Not too far away is a dreamy clubhouse that’s packed with nostalgia. 

Created by the artists/chefs of Lil’ Deb’s Oasis, it draws one in with its black-painted shingles and worn welcome mat. Inside what they call the “Ultra Sensory Memory Stimulation Tiny Home Think Tank,” is a large bean bag chair (or couch), fake floral arrangements, string lights, and a fluffy pink rug. 

Tennis balls and a pool noodle are strung across the ceiling and a scrapbook is held open on the ceiling acting as a projector. A film runs along the pages of the book, and a steady voice comes from a speaker asking questions like “When was the last time you felt free?”

It transports one back to childhood and to the simple joy of it as well as the sheer terror of it. 

Something shimmering leads one to the next installation by Juyon Lee. 

The heart of the shimmering comes from a Mylar emergency blanket, suspended from the exhibit walls by strings and light up by a work light anchored below it. The Mylar is creased as if it was recently unwrapped, and the strings holding it are elastic, making it shiver and the light bouncing off of it shake on the walls anytime a visitor touches it. 

A Video nearby shows people moving the blanket around the light, causing the light to bounce and tumble around in mesmerizing ways. 

Throughout the exhibit, one can hear a somber narrative. In one darker section of the exhibition, a video is projected onto a movie-theater like space.

The film goes along with a narration about scent and heartbreak, showing Google searches, Facebook pages and even a short clip of a washer cycling through. The piece, called “Thoughts on Scent,” by Nicole Bull, puts one right into the perspective of the narrator, immersing them in the story their internet surfing. 

While touch and sight are accounted for throughout “Feel Me,” the exhibition doesn’t skimp out on smell and taste either. 

On a stark white table are more than a dozen delicately curved glasses, with a pitcher of tea placed to the side. The idea is to try the tea and before heading into one of two rooms, which have different scents misting up from these large bubbling glasses. One scent is floral (based in rosehip) and is intensified by the tea. 

The other is warmer and simply blends with the taste of the tea, created by a collaboration with chef Tessa Liebman and artist Goldie Poblador. 

“feel me,” demands active participation, it demands one to think and experience the works rather than simply view them. It’s unlike any exhibition up around the Capital Region (and most likely in other major cities at this time) and it is every bit worth the visit. 

“feel me,” includes work from Nicole Bull, Courtney Dudley, Becca Van K, Juyon Lee, Ana Loor, Lil’ Deb’s Oasis, Goldie Poblador, Adam Tinkle and Yesfolk Tonics. It will be on display until Oct. 12. 

For more info visit collarworks.org.

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