The usual description of Southern Illinois-based artist Bill Smith goes something like this: He holds an MFA in sculpture as well as degrees in diesel mechanics, biology and chemistry. But as his current exhibition at the World Chess Hall of Fame attests, his work begs a subtler read, as it provocatively suggests that the sciences are perhaps a finer instrument for probing the human condition than the market-distracted arts. Composed of six multimedia sculptures and three video works, Beyond the Humanities harnesses form from molecular structures, sine waves, Christmas trees and wildflowers. spherodendron is a spherical network of bent metal fiber, a massive, laced-together orb whose delicate joints glow to resemble nighttime constellations, the structure of the Internet or the inner workings of the brain. A freestanding twenty-foot tower of undulating metal strands shoots through the building's winding stairwell, subtly bending in delicate, incidental air currents. graphyne mimics the behavior of electromagnetic phenomena, utilizing projected animations in a way that suggests sculpture has its own luminous inner life. While the pieces exude an incomprehensible complexity — and utilize a material vocabulary that pertains mostly to the sciences — all illicit a fundamental sense of wonderment of the simplest kind: lying in a field at night observing the sky, or beneath a holiday display whose tiny lights transport one far beyond dime-store decoration. Through September 15 at the World Chess Hall of Fame, 4652 Maryland Avenue; 314-367-9243 or www.worldchesshof.org. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wed. and Sat., 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Thu.-Fri., noon-5 p.m. Sun.
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