From a distance, Fred Eversley’s lenses and mirrored forms look like planets floating in space, their highly polished reflective surfaces reflecting and refracting the world, and our place within it. Fred Eversley: Reflecting Back (the World) expands on the groundbreaking 1976 exhibition of his work at OCMA (then known as the Newport Harbor Art Museum). This was a pivotal period for Eversley—he hit his stride with his primary mode of working at the same time the Light and Space movement gained momentum in Southern California. Yet unlike his Light and Space peers who often collaborated with scientists and outsourced fabrication of their work, Eversley’s firsthand technical understanding as a scientist himself (Eversley came to Southern California in the 1960s to work as a consulting engineer for NASA and his early career was spent with United States’ largest aerospace company during that period–Wyle Labs in Los Angeles) enabled him to utilize materials in ways that uniquely position his practice.
Using the work from OCMA’s collection as a springboard, an untitled black lens from 1976, Reflecting Back (the World) follows the logic of the black hole— the most luminous space in the universe—taking the audience on a journey through time, space, and color. Installed within the curved architecture of the OCMA’s Mezzanine Gallery, the exhibition embodies complex optical properties in an intimate space scaled to the human body, bridging the material and the immaterial, the finite and the infinite, and the visible and the invisible. Moving from dark to light, and through the entire color spectrum, the constellation of works make connections across 30 years of Eversley’s practice, creating a heightened experience of seeing and being in space. Conceived by OCMA’s former Senior Curator, Cassandra Coblentz, and carried forth by OCMA’s new Chief Curator, Courtenay Finn, the exhibition exemplifies Eversley’s interest in challenging notions of perception to offer new perspectives on the world we inhabit.