At Mercury 20 Gallery, boxes, moons and bits of nature
By Skylar De Paul
The Bay Area is a hot spot for some of the best art California has to offer, and Oakland, in particular, is peppered with local galleries that showcase the works of artists from all around the globe. One of such spaces is the artist-run Mercury 20 Gallery, which rotates its featured collections every six weeks. It opened its newest collection of exhibitions last month, featuring works ranging from astronomy-inspired graphics to distressing commentary on FedEx shipments.
Artist Pantea Karimi’s section of the gallery, titled “Countdown: Biruni-Galileo-Apollo,” is focused on the Moon. “I aim to use the Moon as the catalyst to bring poetry, art, and science together,” she writes in her exhibition description. In her art, the Iranian American artist shares her knowledge of astronomy through mixed media art pieces. Karimi includes passages from Persian poets in some of her work, as these writings were her introduction to astronomy when she was growing up in Iran.
Karimi pulled information and inspiration from the manuscripts of early scientists, such as 11th-century Persian astronomer Abū Rayḥān Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad Al-Bīrūnī and 17th-century Italian scientist Galileo Galilei. Karimi first attained access to these manuscripts during her time studying at the British Library in London last year, during which she researched both astronomers.
“I was enchanted by this sense of imagination these scientists had,” Pantea said, standing next to her creations in the gallery she oversaw for the day. She channels this imagination throughout her works, some of which also feature scenes printed in the graphic collage on fabric from the Apollo 11 Moon landing in 1969. Pantea said she hopes her art will “bring a thread between the East and the West” through exploring scientific interpretation. “You cannot say science belongs to this culture or that culture. … Science belongs to humanity,” she said.