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Gallery View: It’s not ‘the End of the World,’ but you can see it in exhibit

Jonathan Latiano’s “The Only Thing That’s the End of the World is the End of the World” puts art and music in sync, through April 2, Payne Gallery, Moravian University, Bethlehem.

The collaborative visual arts project integrates installation art, music and performance in the creation of an immersive sound and light-based kinetic sculpture.

Latiano, a 2006 Moravian graduate with a BA in Studio Art, praises the college for giving him the opportunity to study art, despite a previously-diagnosed learning disability.

“Moravian became my home, a place I am intensely proud of. I fell head-over-heels in love with the fine arts.”

“Jon was a lot of fun to have as a student because I’m sort of a mechanical, hands-on guy who likes to troubleshoot. Jon was building things like this 20 years ago,” says Gallery Director David E. Leidich.

Leidich expresses gratitude for the “tireless army of work-study students and art-club kids” who assisted with the complicated project: “There are literally thousands of pieces in this exhibit.”

Mirrored globes and shiny black spheres hang from the ceiling to create shape-shifting scenes programmed to a high-intensity LED light show and harmonic original music.

“This collaboration has been almost a decade in the making,” says Latiano.

Leidich credits Claire Kowalchik, editor of Moravian University Magazine, who successfully lobbied him to bring Latiano back for the Payne Gallery exhibit.

Internationally-acclaimed composer Sam Wu provided the soundtrack for Latiano’s sculpture installation. Wu contacted the artist in 2015 with music he had composed for a ballet, inspired by the artist’s 2014 “Flight of the Baiji” Baltimore exhibit on extinct freshwater Chinese dolphins. The artist and musician have followed each other’s careers since then.

Wu’s blend of emotionally-moving music is in sync with the flashing LED lights and their reflections as they dance off the glass and swirl around the darkened room.

Wu, of Australia, has an AB in Music and East Asian Studies from Harvard University, a MM in Composition from The Juilliard School, and is pursuing a DMA in Composition at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music.

Latiano, who received a Masters in fine art from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2012, was raised in Coopersburg. Latiano credits his teachers at The Hillside School in Macungie with helping him “navigate” his struggle with dyslexia and “a range of things.”

Latiano, who has an art studio in Somerville, Mass., is a member of the Boston Sculptors Gallery and director of the Art & Art History Program at Merrimack College.

Says Latiano: “This artwork is created in direct response to the current society-level emotional trauma being experienced worldwide brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic as it rages against notions of tribalism, nihilism and racism.” The artist considers the work as a “monument and protest, heavy yet ephemeral, loud yet elusive.”

“The Only Thing That’s the End of the World is the End of the World,” through April 2, Payne Gallery, Moravian University, 346 Main St., Bethlehem. Gallery hours: noon - 4 p.m. Tuesday - Sunday, Closed Monday. https://www.moravian.edu

“Gallery View” is a column about artists, exhibitions and galleries. To request coverage, email: Paul Willistein, Focus editor, pwillistein@rnonline.com

PRESS PHOTO BY ED COURRIER Jonathan Latiano with his “The Only Thing That's the End of the World is the End of the World” art installation at Payne Gallery, Moravian University, Bethlehem.