Before I went to the current exhibit at the Charleston Heights Arts Center, "Emergy" by Maria Michails, I read some intriguing descriptions. The Las Vegas Sun's blurb is representative: "human-powered mechanized rowboat that generates power to a photo gallery." Hmmm. The idea of a rowboat in an exhibit gave me mental images of a large-scale room, but the actual display is small and curved, like a desert slot canyon. The rowboat is stationary, and it links the rower to the display's pictures in a very direct way.
Michails' images are presented on rectangular glass tiles lit from behind. Her photographs of the Strip and Lake Mead capture the beauty of each place, while juxtaposing the hungry lights of the Strip against shots of Lake Mead's "bathtub ring," the visible evidence of its drastically lowered water level. All the pictures aren't lit, however, unless you get in the boat and row to power the lights. Water and electricity are intrinsically linked in the desert: you can't have one without the other.
"Emergy" is on display through February 17. Charleston Heights also hosts plays and concerts, so ask for a program schedule while you're there.
Photography by Terrisa Meeks