After The Mona Lisa 1, 2005. 425 spools of thread, aluminum ball chain and hanging apparatus, clear acrylic viewing sphere, and metal stand, 29 x 21 in.

The Art of Seeing: A Conversation with Devorah Sperber

Art is primarily a visual medium, yet most artists take the experience of sight for granted. Devorah Sperber does not. The New York-based artist probes the optical, social, and historical reasons for why we see what we see. Sperber takes well-known, widely reproduced images and represents them in original sculptures that must be experienced in order to be understood.

In practice, Sperber’s work functions on three interrelated levels simultaneously. From a distance, her works are attractive abstractions. Up close, her unexpected materials (pen caps, brightly colored pipe cleaners and spools of thread) are endearing and playful. But when her images are seen through the optical devices included in their presentation, the provocative final layer emerges and the image it represents becomes clear. Through this evolution, a process that cannot be summed up through mundane reproduction, Sperber successfully disrupts and then refocuses our perception of familiar images, forcing us to reconsider how we interpret visual information and how we look at art.