Selene Smythe: Lunar Torque

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display case with various utensils and globe

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Crystalline Moon Sample Series 1973-1975

April 1 -15, 2024

Learning Commons, Bird Library

In honor of the lunar eclipse to occur on April 8th, 2024, we present a selection of works from noted conceptualist Selene Smythe. A member of the Torquist movement, Smythe is arguably best know for sculptural work which incorporates spoon bending as a major element in the creative process, utilizing materials from the Apollo 15 lunar missions for inspiration. In addition to representative work, the exhibit includes exhaustive materials relating to process, including lunar samples and related artifacts.

About Selene Lena Smythe

Selene Lena Smythe was born on April 1st, 1942, in Eastpoint, Nebraska. The eldest of five children, Selene displayed an aptitude for the arts at a young age. Regarding her upbringing, the artist related that “…my parents were strict but fair. For religious reasons they forbade the use of any container, utensil, or object such as bowls that would touch food. Eating soup was a real challenge. It wasn’t until college that I held my first spoon… and I never went back.” Upon completion of her undergraduate degree at Nebraska Polytech she left for New York City, where she found employment as a waitress before falling in with a group of artists that would change the direction of her life.

Smythe was a key member of the TorquIst artistic collective, a relatively obscure branch of conceptualism, its members working in and around the Tristate area beginning in the early 1960s. Four members were selected to participate in government experiments exploring the feasibility of telekinesis. During the month-long trial they were exposed to anomalous lunar samples, results hinting at an increased telekinetic aptitude. They were quick to apply these skills to their artistic repertoire.

This exhibit features five representative sculptures in a series created between 1973-1975, Selenite Language Alphabet Characters 2, 17, 31, 299. The theme is one of emotional states overlaid with wave patterning for [allegorical] communication with [allegorical] ancient extra-solar beings, made possible through synchronization with sample AL15-HA-71 Q and a zero-refraction tuner (souvenirs from her time with NASA.)

On display for April Fools Day 2024.

silver spoon

bent spoons and globe with written description next to it

bent spoon