“Firefly Experience” fails to live up to potential

The artwork and photography featured in the Tulsa Performing Arts Center’s “Firefly Experience” was gorgeous, but I was disappointed to find that the gallery showing was not entirely the multi-sensory “experience” it claimed to be.

The Tulsa PAC isn’t exactly hopping at noon on a Wednesday, which is when my roommate and I arrived at the exhibit in a fervent attempt to squeeze in a visit between classes. In retrospect, this may have been our first mistake. After encounters with a few winding, echoing hallways and a broken elevator button, we found our way to the exhibit, tucked neatly into a quiet corner of the PAC.

When we arrived at the exhibit, we discovered that it consisted of about 20 firefly images in a dimly lit and deserted room. The enhancing “evening sounds of nature” and firefly ambiance advertised by the Tulsa Performing Arts Center in their description of the event were nowhere to be seen nor heard.

Whether or not this had to do with the fact that the PAC was mostly deserted, I can’t say. Perhaps they choose not to run the sound effects during low-traffic hours? Or maybe it had to do with the online description of the exhibit—I’ll admit, I can be a sucker for the sensational, and after reading the PAC’s selling points I was expecting something a little more tangible, vivid or interactive in the Firefly Experience. Whatever the reason, I was a little underwhelmed by my first impression of the exhibit.

Despite the initially disappointing lack of atmosphere, I found myself very impressed by the artwork. The exhibit featured stunning macro photographs of fireflies mid-glow, as well as some intricate and hyper-detailed anatomical photos of the insects.

Radim Schreiber, the artist who contributed most of the artwork in the show, advertises himself as a “firefly photographer” and specializes in capturing fireflies’ ethereal glow up close and personal.

The other artist featured in the exhibit, Bob Sober, is locally based and has taken a series of detailed macro photos of insects with the intention of bringing recognition to their often overlooked world. His photography adds a wonderful complementary flavor of detailed art to Schreiber’s nearly surreal photography.

While I definitely admired Sober’s work, I have to admit that my favorite aspect of the exhibit was Schreiber’s photography. Looking at it, I could feel the vibe that I think the exhibit was meant to induce: the soft sounds of evening, the reddish light of sunset and the coolness of dark creeping nearer, the warm summer air and above all, the blinking glow of the fireflies.

The exhibit is now closed, but those interested in viewing some of the featured firefly art can visit www.fireflyexperience.org for Schreiber’s photography or www.artisimportant.com for Sober’s work.

Post Author: tucollegian

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