Disorienting sounds play as overlapping cut-out shapes slowly fill the screen, creating the mesmerizing landscapes of artist Rachel Rose’s “Lake Valley.”
The eight-minute animated video, which debuted online on Wednesday and will be available until Aug. 16, is the first work from the Carnegie Museum of Art’s film and video collection featured in the museum’s new virtual exhibition series.
Rose, who lives in New York, also exhibited the film at the 2018 Carnegie International, which is “the oldest exhibition of international contemporary art in North America, and the second oldest in the world,” according to CMOA’s website.
The plot of “Lake Valley” follows a small black-and-white spotted creature with floppy, rabbit-like ears as it moves between its owners’ home and the densely forested world of their backyard. The work’s otherworldly quality draws inspiration from children’s literary genres and mobilizes fantasy aesthetics to address themes of loneliness.
The debut of this online exhibition series comes just more than a week after Steven Knapp, the president and CEO of the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, urged Gov. Tom Wolf to allow museums in Allegheny County to reopen. Museums are currently considered entertainment venues, and will remain closed while the county is in the yellow phase.
Although CMOA also offers virtual tours of the physical exhibits, this is the organization’s first exclusively online programming. According to Director Eric Crosby, who organized the exhibit, the closure of venues due to the COVID-19 pandemic means museums and galleries need to take a new approach to their work. The purpose of the online series is to ensure that the public still has access to art, he said in a press release.
“In order to serve our visitors in new ways that are meaningful to them, we must fundamentally rethink the traditional museum experience,” Crosby said. “Regardless of whether our doors are open or closed, there should be countless opportunities for our digital audiences to experience and interpret art.”
“Rachel Rose: Lake Valley” will also feature two free online events. Rose will join Crosby for a conversation about her piece on June 17. The public can also participate in an all-ages drawing workshop, themed after “Lake Valley” and led by CMOA teaching artist Joke Slagle, on July 15.
The exhibition series will present other items from the museum’s film and video collection — which contains more than 1,000 works — in the future, but Rose said she’s excited for “Lake Valley” to be the first film featured in the series.
“I’m happy and honored to have ‘Lake Valley’ shown as the inaugural video work in this new series presented by Carnegie Museum of Art, and I’m looking forward to seeing other works I might not have otherwise been able to see,” she said.