Local Artist Greg Bowerman Displays “Living While Sleeping”

Gallery 226, a small, white-walled room off to the right from the Cummings lobby, has a lot going on. In it is Greg Bowerman’s show, “Living While Sleeping.” At first glance, it looks like something out of a sci-fi movie: the colors are vibrant, the shapes unusual, and the paintings—some which have photographs layered on top of them—have a depth that makes it seem like you could walk straight into them and enter another world.

Bowerman is a photography and film studies instructor at the Williams School, the coed, college-prep high school on a south corner of our campus. He has worked there for fifteen years. He trained at artists’ residencies in Ireland, France, Bulgaria, and Kentucky, and has displayed his artwork at several galleries including the Windsor Art Center and New London’s own Golden Street Gallery and Hygienic Art Gallery.

Bowerman uses 19th Century processes to create his work, and although this particular show is a conglomeration of various types, he says mixed-media is a new form for him. The exhibition is a mix of cyanotypes, blue-and-white colored blueprints; albumen prints, made using egg whites to bind the media together; and ziatypes, which produce work with the richness and depth of a traditional platinum print. All the works in the show are contact-print processes, meaning they are made in the sun, and the end result is exactly what you see hanging in the show. These processes are incredibly labor-intensive; just making the egg whites and coating the paper alone takes a whole night.

The exhibition is composed of fifteen works and six small prints that accompany some of the main pieces. One set of works is a group of four green, yellow, blue, and gray oil paintings titled Obtaining Inertia. Bowerman told me this title came from a Boston Marathoner who used the phrase to describe how he feels when running. Obtaining Inertia is accompanied by Obtaining Inertia I and II, two 7×7” prints (albumen and ziatype, respectively). Along the right wall, nine pieces, grouped into sets of three, make up the Don’t Place Me in a Box Series I-III (Series II is pictured below). These are all cyanotypes.

When I asked Bowerman what inspired him to create this show, he sighed: “This was a tough one. I usually travel, which provides inspiration. This summer I stayed at home.” The pieces in this show are supposed to reflect his self-reflection and spirituality found in nature, “That’s why I chose the title…we go through life way too oblivious, and it’s time we catch up. This [the show] gave me self-reflection, a peace of mind, a sense of contemplation. There’s a lot going on. It was very cathartic for me.”

Yet “Living While Sleeping” is not just about Bowerman’s self-discovery. It was also inspired by a close Cambodian friend who survived the Khmer Rouge. He was moved by her ability to remain so happy and enthusiastic, in spite of the horrors she’d experienced in her past, and wanted to document that ability. Bowerman emphasized that his exhibition is meant to “…inspire [people] and feel like love and hope.”

The formal opening for “Living While Sleeping,” along with the other exhibitions that are currently up in Cummings, is Saturday, Sep. 23 from 4-5:30pm. Bowerman’s show will remain open until Oct. 12.