In The Footsteps of the Starry Messenger

In the Footsteps of the Starry Messenger

Figureworks Gallery, 168 North 6th Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

January 8 – February 21, 2010.

The exhibition includes over 40 nib pen and ink drawings painted in watercolor, ranging from 7 inches to 7 feet, and is inspired by a seminal scientific event that changed the course of history.

Some background:In January 1610, Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei observed three very bright objects close to Jupiter. After several nights, he noticed that the pattern changed and a fourth bright object became visible. Galileo explained there were four satellites which revolved about Jupiter and Jupiter and its satellites revolved around the sun. To Galileo, it followed that the sun must be the center of the universe. In March 1610, he published the results of his observations in his book, The Starry Messenger. On the evening of April 14, 1611, Galileo demonstrated his theory to the influential philosophers and mathematicians of the Jesuit Collegio Romano, letting them see with their own eyes through his telescope the reality of the four moons of Jupiter. They were also able to read an inscription on a building three miles away. While in Rome he was also made a member of the Accademia dei Lincei, the first formal scientific society founded by Prince Federico Cesi.

While in residence at The American Academy in Rome in spring 2009, I was working in a studio on the actual site where Galileo first set up his telescope for his colleagues at the Jesuit Collegio Romano, which was followed by a formal banquet to celebrate the occasion. This fascinating historical link became the springboard for my exhibition, In The Footsteps of the Starry Messenger. The work is about all of the people who have been in that particular space and what they have done there. I chose to draw shoes to represent the people themselves. For source material, I stopped people on the street in Rome to photograph their shoes, made sketches in museums, and looked at shoe images in Roman advertising. Also on view are images relating to Accademia dei Lincei, and to my own idea of a banquet: my Roman food and my kitchen at the Academy.

Meridith McNeal, Apples by the Academy Gate, 2009, nib pen, ink and watercolor on paper 56x42"

“I hope you will be pleased to see that on this side of the mountains

also men are not lacking who travel in your footsteps.”

Letter from Mark Welser to Galileo Galilei, 1612

Meridith McNeal, Dancing Shoes, 2009, nib pen, ink and watercolor on paper 13x12"
Meridith McNeal, White Leather Baby Shoes, 2009, nib pen, ink and watercolor on paper 12x18"
Meridith McNeal, l’Accademia, 2009, nib pen and ink with watercolor and glitter eyeliner, 23x18.5”