Art TED Talks

Shea Hembrey sculpts dark matter in a new gallery show

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Shea Hembrey is 100 artists in one. At TED2011, he shared how he staged an international biennial containing works from 100 artists … all of whom he invented himself.

The talk has spun into his first New York gallery exhibit, featuring work he made—this time as himself. The exhibit is called “Dark Matters,” and it’s on view at the Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery through October 20.

“When I spoke at TED in Long Beach in 2011, Gary and Sarah Wolkowitz were in the audience and their son, Bryce, now represents my work,” Hembrey tells the TED Blog.

The exhibit focuses on his fascination for the past 20 years: dark matter.

“For nearly two decades, I have continually pondered dark matter and dark energy—which together account for over 95% of the cosmos,” Hembrey says in the gallery materials. “The question of these mysteries has repeatedly surfaced in my imagery over the years.”

Below, watch Shea’s wonderful TEDTalk and see some of the pieces from his new show.

[ted id=1169]

And here, some of the works from Hembrey’s new exhibit:

When Eyes Are Closed—Dark Rain, 2012, acrylic on board, 36 x 48 inches.

This close-up is from a piece in the series What You See When Your Eyes Are Closed. Hembrey explains in the gallery materials, “When I first heard about dark matter, the first visual I immediately connected to this mystery was what I see when my eyes are closed: that mercurial, unfixed, shifting darkness.”

Raft, 2012, guinea feathers, redbud sticks, lead, amethyst, chrysocolla, vanadinite, azurite, malachite, fluorite, quartz, selenite, nickel, calcite, garnet, citrine, turquoise, mica, tourmaline, topaz, and silk thread, 13 x 21.5 x 21.5 inches.

This work is also one of Hembrey’s Universal Portraits, which he calls “simple sculptures that are lyrical models of the cosmos.”


Radius, 2012, wheat straw, wood, foam, plastic, paper, screws, and acrylic paint, 83.75 x 83.75 x 27 inches.

Hembrey says of his series Strewn, “Made of straw, [it] contemplates the ever-present well of dark energy.

Brick (celestial), 2012, burnt cork, pins, nails, moonstones, one piece of thread, ink, and acrylic paint, 5 x 12 x 8.5 inches.

Another of Hembrey’s Universal Portraits.

To read much more about Shea Hembrey, visit his website. And to find out information on his exhibit, head to the Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery site.