During the 1960s and 70s, The Claremont Colleges served as an important intellectual springboard for the Light and Space movement, itself so essential to defining artistic production in Southern California in the mid to late twentieth century. Roy Thurston (born 1949) graduated from the MFA program at Claremont Graduate School (now Claremont Graduate University) in 1974, around the same time as celebrated Pomona and CGU alums James Turrell, Helen Pashgian, and Chris Burden, all of whom created variations of field and color that emphasized spellbinding experiences over the immutability of the image.
Thurston’s practice, loosely defined as sculptural, evades easy categorization in its multifaceted engagement of the viewer. Thurston uses massive rectangular forms often crafted from aluminum panels, which are then coated with pigmented acrylic polyurethane or silicone surfaces. With subtle textures burnished into the metal that are not always apparent at first glance, the work requires the viewer’s close attention in order to perceive how the forms’ colors and depths change with the wax and wane of ambient light in the gallery space. At other times, Thurston will literally shine a light on his works to feature their various depths when illuminated from above or the side.
Roy Thurston: Recent Work brings together examples of Thurston’s sculptures as part of a larger institutional conversation about the limits and legacies of the Light and Space movement. The exhibition will feature new work, including a monumental 10-foot by 5-foot installation for the Benton’s double-height south atrium, as well as several other examples from recent years that exemplify his experimentation with form, color, and texture.