Mercer County Community College exhibits ‘Searching for the Cultural Plumb Bob’

“Searching for the Cultural Plumb Bob” by Zahar Vaks.

The Gallery at Mercer County Community College showcases a true multi-sensory  display with its latest exhibition entitled ‘Searching for the Cultural Plumb Bob.’

The exhibit showcase began on Jan. 27 and will be on display until March 5.

The display features the works of Uzbekistan native Zahar Vaks. Vaks is a visual artist based in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The featured work is located on the second floor of the Communications Building in the college’s West Windsor Campus, which is located at 1200 Old Trenton Road.

According to gallery officials, born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Vaks’ paintings, drawings and structures are material narratives actualized by a multi-sensory approach.

Officials said the olfactory and tactile elements of his work are just as important as the visual. His works address the perception of time through the marinating of oil, tree sap balsams and pigments with ingredients used in cooking, such as turmeric.

Vaks applies his ingredients to various surfaces such as linen, canvas, silk screens, vinyl, drywall and I-phones.

“Zahar Vaks explores a conversation between the ancient and the contemporary,” said Alice Thompson, director at The Gallery, “Vaks’ paintings depict spaces — whether scenes from memory or the sensory recalls of a corporeal experience. The passage of time in a painting can be specific or elusive or even completely timeless. A quick, bold gesture can dissolve into a slow and subtle remnant.”

The surfaces of Vaks’ pieces are varied. Paintings are stretched or left loose with surfaces fused. A piece of organza painted with fabric dye may be layered over velvet.

The fusion of these layers creates a new kind of skin that is not easily identifiable and allows for more possibilities, according to officials. 

Vaks earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Tyler School of Art, and a Master of Fine Arts from Ohio State University. His work has been exhibited in New York, Philadelphia, Columbus, Las Vegas, Houston, Vienna and on the island of Svalbard in Norway.

Officials said this past summer he was invited to participate in the Rauschenberg Residency. Vaks attended the Galveston Artist Residency from 2012-13.

Currently he is a member of the Ortega y Gasset Projects, an artist-run curatorial collective and exhibition space in Gowanus, Brooklyn.

According to officials, gallery hours are 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. on Wednesdays.

For more information on the exhibit, visit