Wednesday, July 17, 2024

A detail from Naoe Suzuki’s “Extinction Studies” series of maps. (Photo: Claire Ogden)

Equal parts insightful and inscrutable, Lesley University’s “Language, Like Letters” exhibition is on view for just one more week at the Lunder Arts Center near Porter Square.

The show explores the power and limits of language beautifully.

In drawings on the inner walls of the Lunder’s main gallery, Naoe Suzuki recreates old maps of the Adirondacks from the collections of the Boston Public Library Map Center, where the artist had a residency almost 20 years ago. In these maps, places named after animals are signified now only by the animals, so instead of contemplating a visit to “Eagle Lake,” you could contemplate visiting its eagle – potent reminders of maps’ ability to transmit knowledge about a space.

Work by Gabriel Sosa at Lesley University’s Lunder Arts Center. (Photo: Claire Ogden)

The outside walls of the gallery tell a similar story with vastly different methods: Gabriel Sosa’s pencil drawings evoke in colorful detail the absurdities of the U.S. legal system and injustices that language creates in the courtroom, lessons from his work as a Spanish-language court interpreter. He crams a seemingly impossible amount of words into his compositions, erasing them and drawing over them again and again. The type is squeezed nearly to incomprehensibility. The works are unframed and hang by paperclips; the sense of precariousness is stunning.

Kenson Truong’s “Bespoke” is revealed in fragments under UV light. (Photo: Claire Ogden)

The highlight of the show is “Bespoke” (2021), a wondrous sculpture/installation/poem by Kenson Truong that demands closer inspection. The piece is in a dark corner of the gallery. At first, the walls look blank. A label invites viewer participation: Shine an available ultraviolet flashlight on the wall and poetry comes into view. The light is dim, and only small sections can be viewed at a time. Laboring to read even just a sentence, I was charmed by being invited into this world. Rich and mysterious, “Language, Like Letters” is not to be missed.

  • “Language, Like Letters” runs through March 1 at Lesley University’s Lunder Arts Center, 1801 Massachusetts Ave., Porter Square, Cambridge. Free.

Share your own 150-word appreciation for a piece of visual art or art happening with photo to [email protected] with the subject line “Behold.”