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John and June Allcott Gallery: Betsy Kenyon, Grey Matter

November 5, 2021 @ 8:00 am - December 3, 2021 @ 5:00 pm

Betsy Kenyon, Pass Through

featuring collaboration with Shelby Wilson

Virtual Opening/Gallery Talk: November 9, 6-7 pm

Gallery Hours: Per our semester Covid policies, the exhibition can be viewed through the gallery’s glass front wall, 9-5 M-F

Author Maxwell Neely-Cohen on Betsy Kenyon:

“The hardest thing one can do on a flat surface is represent light with any authenticity. Not just light that is ambient, that is merely a medium for other objects, but true light, emanating outward, radiating with a brightness that can pulse, rebound, and fade.”

“Betsy Kenyon can make paper scream with photons. She can put a fusion reaction onto a millimeter plane. She does this by using light itself as a medium. A source. No lens needed, just alternating the gift and denial of illumination at the right moments. Every burn can be controlled. We can paint with light it turns out. Wield it at a target.”

“Planets and doors, logos and swarms, the frozen chaos of particle collision at the smallest possible level. Shapes in mathematical transformations so perfect they belong in geometry textbooks. Film backdrops in stasis.”

“Betsy once told me that she wanted her images to be verbs. As much as I want to assign nouns to them—gravity, cosmos, shadows—she is right, they are verbs, best verbalized as actions. They push. Pull. Rotate. Cycle. Drop. Blur. Filter. Contract. Expand. Crush. Some of them run. Some of them crawl. Some of them even disappear. A magic trick. Frozen.”

“When rendered in digital space these forms reveal their tricks and secrets. How a simple shape set into motion can blossom into a complex lattice, a structure worthy of a sigil or temple. How long it takes our eyes to notice a blurring edge, the slight shift of a gradient. How that can become layers of a staircase, an invitation to plunge or accept an outstretched hand.”

“It almost doesn’t matter if the images are moving or not. The animations can be read as still, the photograms rendered as moving. Don’t fall in.”

Betsy Kenyon lives and works in New York City with her husband, cinematographer Richard Rutkowski, and their daughter Daisy. Her education includes Sarah Lawrence College and an MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is currently working on Slumber, a year-long project made during the pandemic.

Betsy’s work is included in the following collections: Centre George Pompidou, The Art Institute of Chicago, Photography Collection; Museum of Modern Art/Franklin Furnace Book Collection; Whitney Museum of American Art, Library; Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas J. Watson Library; Groninger Museum, Special Collections; New York Public Library, Print Collection; and Yale University, Art and Architecture Library.

Artist website:

Image: Pass Through, courtesy of Betsy Kenyon


November 5, 2021 @ 8:00 am
December 3, 2021 @ 5:00 pm
Event Category:


John and June Allcott Gallery
Hanes Art Center, 115 S Columbia Street
CHAPEL HILL, NC 27599 United States


Roxana Perez-Mendez