Art, science, spirituality converge in Westmont art museum exhibit
Adam Belt explores the point where art, science and spirituality converge in the exhibition, “Adam Belt: Wish You Were Here,” on view through Nov. 5 at the Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art.
Mr. Belt began his career as a landscape painter before shifting his interests to making visible the unseen energies at work in the universe, especially those forces beyond one’s meager understanding.
“His work is simple and minimal, yet it asks complex questions and reveals profound truths,” said Judy Larson, R. Anthony Askew professor of art history and museum director. “Curiosity is at the core of Belt’s works. He explores the intersections of science and the visual arts, inviting his viewers to see our world in new ways.”
“His interest in the environment has led his art to correlate with the sciences, from geology to astronomy, and he portrays his explorations through unique and exciting means,” added Chris Rupp, museum collection manager
Mr. Belt, who was born in 1975 in Seattle, grew up in a religious family, where faith played a central role. Of particular impact was the eruption of Mt. St. Helens on May 18,1980, on his mother’s birthday. The family spent the day huddled around the television watching news reports detailing the pitch black conditions due to the ash cloud in the central part of Washington state while also showing videos of houses washing down rivers formed by the rapidly melting glaciers.
At a young age, he was captivated with distant lands, especially those of the far north. Glaciers, icebergs and aurora borealis were of particular fascination.
In 1987, the family moved from Seattle to Albuquerque. There, his natural proclivity toward the landscape and to landscape painting was fostered by exposure to the vast expanse of the high desert.
He was also introduced to the works of living landscape painters exhibiting in Santa Fe, most notably Wilson Hurley, along with historical artists of the Taos school such as Ernest L. Blumenschein, E. Martin Hennings and Victor Higgins.
“Landscape painting was a means of engaging the sense of silence and eternity in the landscape. It was a point of contact rather than a means of expression,” said Mr. Belt.
In 1993, he entered the University of San Diego hoping to play baseball; however, previous injuries ended his career. During the same time, he was exposed to art history and contemporary art.
And while there was no one artist or work of art that changed his perspective, the many methods and strategies opened him to a greater variety of opportunities for artistic expression.
In 1999, Mr. Belt and his wife Wendy moved to Claremont to study for his MFA at Claremont Graduate University, where he created a variety of installations based on natural phenomena involving time as a key element in the work.
At the same time, he was introduced to the Christian monastic tradition including Thomas Merton and the Desert Fathers. The aspects of prayer, silence and time became key components in his work along with an understanding of his creative practice as a religious vocation.
The artist’s work has been exhibited at a variety of museums and galleries locally and nationally including the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville AR; Franklin Parrasch Gallery, New York City; RCM Galerie, Paris; and Wonderspaces, a traveling exhibition.
“My artistic practice is a religious vocation resulting in works and projects that are a contemplation of physical and phenomenological aspects of our world, the cosmos, God and religion,” said Mr. Belt.