Text art reflects light and ‘smoke and mirrors’ in Linfield Gallery

Nawal Alaoui, former student of artist Kartz Ucci and graduate of the University of Oregon, inspects the “like smoke and holy water” exhibit at the artist reception Sept. 1 in the Miller Fine Arts Gallery. Megan Myer/Online editor

The new exhibit in the Linfield Gallery, “like smoke and holy water,” by Kartz Ucci is a non-traditional, artistic response to the area of
the actual gallery space.
The work features text made of a highly reflective material hung across the three walls of the gallery. The text is intended to reflect
the natural light streaming into the space and elicit a psycho-physiological response from the viewer, Ucci said.
The text ascends around the walls of the gallery with the words “like smoke” at eye-level on one wall, “and holy” moving up
diagonally on the next wall and “water” closer to the ceiling on the last wall, across from the windows. Ucci said that arranging the text
in a circle created a sort of activation as viewers start reading and spin around in a circle to finish.
Ucci said she was struck by the light of the room when she came to the gallery to decide what kind of piece to make. Because of
this, she said she couldn’t show video and instead decided to work with text as an image.
“This space is so filled with light,” she said. “I decided I would use the room as a screen.”
Ucci also said the light in the room made her think of the smoke and mirrors metaphor. This initially encouraged her to cover the
floor in mirrors as part of her work. She eventually decided to do something simpler.
Thinking of smoke and mirrors, she decided to use the text “like smoke and holy water.”
“I wanted some text that referred to the space,” she said.
Ucci said the text evoked the idea of magic, a recurring theme in her recent works, but also highlighted how there is a falseness
about it. Each letter was drawn individually using a font that Ucci designed herself.
Ucci has taught at multiple universities and has been teaching at the University of Oregon since 2004.
“I really enjoy [Ucci’s] art,” former student of Ucci’s and UofO graduate Liz Bayan said at the reception for the artist Sept. 1. “It’s very
minimalist; it’s very, very conceptual, which is something that has rubbed off a lot on me.”
Bayan and Nawal Alaoui, another former student of Ucci’s and UofO graduate at the reception, said they were drawn to the “like
smoke” part of the piece.
“You can see your reflection through it, whereas in the ‘water,’ it’s the same thing; it’s not changing,” Alaoui said. “The ‘like smoke’ is
constantly changing depending on who’s in the room and how they’re interacting with it.”
Bayan felt similarly.
“It kind of encompasses you and surrounds you, which is really nice,” she said.
The work will be featured in the Linfield Gallery in the James F. Miller Fine Arts Center from Tuesday, August 31 to Saturday,
October 9. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m.
To learn more about Kartz Ucci and to see more of her work, visit

Braden Smith/Managing editor
Braden Smith can be reached at linfieldreviewmanaging@gmail.com

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