Though it functions as a bridge between various disciplines of art and entertainment, the panoramic art form may not be a well-known creative channel. Visual artist Sara Velas is working to change that.
As part of the Masters of Fine Arts Visiting Artist Lecture series, Velas will give a lecture today at 4:30 p.m. in the Technocultural Studies building (formerly the Art Annex). The event is free and open to the public.
Invented in the 19th century by Irish painter Robert Barker, panorama art provides the viewer with an entirely different viewer impression, Velas said. With its 360-degree landscape, the viewer is immersed into the work as they enter the center of the painting and stand on a viewing platform.
“The visceral experience, the feeling to be in this circular building and the way your peripheral vision picks up on the painting is a very special experience,” she said.
Velas, who studied painting at Washington University in St. Louis, said that she was fascinated by the idea of painting as entertainment. She compared the panoramic art form to the cinematic experience.
“In the 19th century, it became kind of spectacle art form that people would buy tickets to see,” Velas said. “It was this immersion and sense of illusion that seemed really dynamic and exciting at that time.“
However, Velas said that advancements in technology and its consequential change in the way people consume entertainment have had an adverse effect on the popularity of panoramas.
“The way that our attention span works and the way that we consume images, movie screens, LCD screens and lights on a cell phone really alters the way we take in information and the action we come to expect,” Velas said.
Despite this, Velas is working to bring panoramas back into the limelight. In 2000, she established the Velaslavasay Panorama in Hollywood. The building – which houses an exhibition hall, theater and garden – is one of three panoramas on display in rotundas in the United States.
It was this committed approach to art and the community that made Velas a strong candidate to invite to Davis, said series coordinator Julia Elsas, a second-year art studio graduate student.
“Her name stood out as adding a diversity [to the series],” Elsas said. “[Velas‘ work] is community-based and history-based.”
The lecture series, which is funded by the dean’s office, is aimed to create an open dialogue between the artist and the campus community, said Annabeth Rosen, graduate advisor for the department of art and art history.
She also emphasized the inherently interdisciplinary nature of art in general.
“Interdisciplinary investigations involve making connections and integrating different disciplines and technologies in order to gain a deeper understanding of one’s own work in the world,” Rosen said in an e-mail interview.
RACHEL FILIPINAS can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.