CSU’s Allicar Museum bringing art to life, virtually

Bihn Dahn Barracked
The works of Vietnamese photographer Bihn Dahn, who invented the chlorophyll printing process, baking his images onto natural canvases, will be featured in a virtual exhibition at CSUs Gregory Allicar Museum.

Colorado State University’s Gregory Allicar Museum of Art may not be open in the usual way but that doesn’t mean art is on hiatus. Far from it.

The highly respected museum has opened an artist-curated virtual exhibition series featuring the work of internationally acclaimed photographer Binh Danh. The year-long exhibition is the first in a series of virtual programs featuring artists and their works when paired with existing works in CSU’s collection.

“It’s been an incredible experience getting to know Binh’s recent work better and to see the museum’s collection through his eyes,” said Lynn Boland, director of the Allicar Museum. “I think the show will be enlightening and enjoyable to anyone, but for those who know some of these works well already, it should be especially exciting to experience them in this new context. For all of our current physical limitations, the virtual platform here really offers something we simply couldn’t do in person.”

Groundbreaking artist

Binh, who teaches photography at San Jose State University, utilizes a unique technique that incorporates his invention of the chlorophyll printing process, in which photographic images appear embedded in leaves through the action of photosynthesis. He uses this medium to investigate his Vietnamese heritage and our collective memory of war.

Binh’s newer body of work focuses on 19th-century photographic processes, applying them in an investigation of battlefield landscapes and contemporary memorials. A recent series celebrated the U.S. National Park system during its 100th anniversary year.

Notably, the exhibition premiers two of Binh’s most recent works. The penultimate work in the exhibition, View of Bernal Heights and 101/280 interchange, San Francisco, CA (2020), chronicles the state of quarantine in July.

Collection spans 1,000 years

Binh selected 19 works from the museum’s collection from around the globe and spanning more than 1,000 years to include in the exhibition.

Bihn Dahn
Bihn Dahn

“What has been on my mind lately is catastrophes,” Binh said. “Are we at the brink of one, or are we in the midst of it and things get better from here? What about the November election? Will we get a vaccine? When can I safely visit all my favorite art venues, go outdoors or hug a friend?

“Looking and making art has always reminded me that we intersect with each other, with the dead, the living, the cycle of life from everything in the mountains, gardens and internment camps.”

The virtual exhibition series, called C.A.R.S. Online, is part of the museum’s long-running Critic & Artist Residency Series, which was founded in 1997 to bring prominent artists, critics and curators to the CSU for public lectures, classroom visits and exhibitions. Other upcoming series artist-curators will be Jess Dugan, Mauro Giaconi, Courtney Egan and Zora Murff, with each exhibition on view for a year.

Museum open to students, faculty and staff

The museum currently is open (Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) only to students, faculty and staff. Public tours (Saturdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.) will begin Sept. 12 but require reservations at the museum’s website.