SRU art major hopes to create peace from chaos


“Lumen Interius,” created by Travis Sallack

“Lumen Interius,” created by Travis Sallack, a Slippery Rock University art major from Johnsonburg, is meant to symbolize the potential for human transformation.

Nov. 23, 2016

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - The presidential election may be over, but the political divide caused by it continues to ripple across the country. That friction prompted Travis Sallack, a Slippery Rock University art major, to create and display a project for peace.

Sallack, a senior for Dubois, has crafted duffle-bag size luminaries and has hung them from tree limbs behind Rhoads Hall. The display, entitled "Lumen Interius," which is Latin for inner light, symbolizes the potential for human transformation according to Sallack.

Travis Sallack


"These pieces are a reactionary installation promoting inner beauty originally conceived during the very hostile election cycle," said Sallack. "These represent the light that is within all of us. I like to believe there is an inner beauty within every person."

Sallack, who created the display for a senior level sculpture class, said he plans to construct 12-16 of the luminaries for his own "Light Up Night" ceremony Dec. 12.

"The idea was conceived while I was watching CNN," Sallack said. "I saw the hostility, aggression and hatred that was coming out during the election and thought of a way to alleviate tensions on both sides."

The illuminating pods are reminiscent of cocoons.

"Much like a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly, we as humans have the ability to let our inner light shine through," Sallack said. "It may take a while, but much like the metamorphosis of a caterpillar, the beauty in each of us is there ... it's just hidden."

Sallack constructed the display using chicken wire, tomato cages, cellophane plastic wrap, wire, wood, rope and battery-operated light sources. He fastened the pods to branches using rope and large Christmas tree-like ornament hooks.

Sallack hopes that observers "interact" with the piece.

"People are encouraged to touch and walk up to the installation, not necessarily just viewing it from far away," he said. "A lot of people hug them or lay underneath them. There is a certain whimsical quality to the forms themselves. I've also been told they remind people of aliens in a cocoon, spider eggs or that they appear very ominous, yet beautiful."

Sallack said he chose the location because it runs counterintuitive to setting up an exhibit in an area normally frequented by heavy pedestrian traffic. His strategy aligns with the Art in Odd Places movement. AOP stretches the boundaries of art in the public realm by presenting artworks outside the confines of traditional public spaces.

"The location is part of the allure, I want people to be shocked by them and that would add to the overall effect of the installation," said Sallack.

Sallack, who will graduate in the spring, plans to pursue a master's degree in art history or museum studies, with the goal of working as a curator or gallery director.

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