Prismatic Strands: Plexus No. 29

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Whether you are standing back to enjoy the rainbow of colors that make up Plexus No. 29, or inspecting the intricate woven details up close, the artwork is an experience. Artist Gabriel Dawe used almost 80 miles of various colored thread to create this installation piece hanging underneath a skylight in BYU’s Museum of Art.

This piece is Dawe’s largest artwork to date. There is an intentional and unmistakable resemblance to light being split by a prism into a spectrum of colors. The magnitude and fine details inspire a sense of wonder in the viewer, with many facets to look through. Since it is not a projection of light, but rather a physical three-dimensional sculpture, it allows for visual study and mental reflection.

Moving around the sculpture changes the viewer’s experience. Visitors can experience the artwork from above, on the mezzanine level or below, sitting on benches, with each perspective giving new levels of observation.

“Plexus 29 (sic.) is a really cool experience from any angle, because I enjoy watching the shift of colors. I think that the structure should not be viewed from any one single perspective, because in order to truly experience the piece, you need to move around and underneath it,” said senior Nathan Gross.

Actively moving around the exhibit changes how the threads interact with each other and the lighting, both natural and artificial, and produces vibrant excitement from any angle.

“What I like about this work is it’s very approachable; there’s a universal connection. It helps us to connect to that sense of wonder you have as a child – it bypasses your mind and touches something else,” Dawe said.

The use of rich and bright colors creating a rainbow effect is pleasing and exhilarating no matter where one chooses to view the installation. Just below the height of the hanging filaments are various messages that continue to reinforce the positivity that one feels while seeing the colors through light, including “self-affirmation.” The fact that these messages wrap all around the base of the oculus, the skylight that the thread hangs under, gives the viewer a cyclical message, almost a mantra, that one can read and repeat while walking around the structure.

When planning a trip to see Plexus No. 29, the best time to visit is the early afternoon on a sunnyday, so that all of the brilliant colors shine vividly. The viewer is able to experience the almost ethereal glow that the threads create on the floor beneath.