Can contemporary art, besides being visually stunning, have healing functions? In a postmodern society where everything has gone virtual and the destructive power of synthetics floods daily life, where all things are for sale and dollars signs fly ad libitum, is anything left in the higher value of art?

The transmedia exhibit Let There Be Light, opening at the Kate Oh Gallery in Manhattan, critiques the contemporary world and presents a thoughtful argument for an organic future. The show brings for the first time two collaborative West Coast artists -- Chris Gocong and Rod Lathim -- from the Los Angeles area to New York City. Probing the interaction between light and matter, their neon-transformed paintings and sculptures combine the ethereal dimensions of light art with the whimsical accessibility of pop culture, reinterpreting current styles through an organic lens and provoking a witty thesis about creativity and spiritual growth. According to art historian and international curator Benji Su, the show is about “healing” – a theme rigorously reflected in the biographies of the artists. After having his NFL career marred by injuries, Chris Gocong suffered from post-concussion syndrome. Following years of debilitation and despair, and advised by doctors that “it is what it is,” he turned to painting for healing.

“The fear of not knowing how severe my brain injuries were, or how much time I had, was the worst part. I began trying anything that would relieve my physical and mental anguish, only to find that the brief respite was followed by symptoms far worse than before.” Chris eventually picked up the paintbrush as a means of active meditation.

Similarly, after a lifetime of working as a pioneer of accessible theatre integrating deaf and disabled artists, director and producer Rod Lathim wanted to bring the healing powers of storytelling, and his spiritual interactions with “the other side,” to the visual arts. His compositions transform vintage objects that hold stories from their past into sculptures of light and energy, infusing the objects with life renewed. Lathim believes he was guided to the art of sculpting with energy, for “It mirrors the essence of the fundamentals of all existence – always in a continuous process of growth.” This is particularly striking in his works featuring beaded neon, a unique, kinetic form of light rarely seen.

Together, these artists demonstrate the possibility of mending a deconstructed world through light.

Chris Gocong

Chris Gocong is a visual artist with a passion for capturing emotion through portraiture, figurative art and abstraction. The main body of his work is inspired by the commonality of human emotion and consciousness. His pursuit in portraiture is less about copying features to reproduce a likeness, but rather trying to capture the multiple emotional layers of the subject. Chris was drafted to the NFL from Cal Poly SLO where he studied biomedical engineering. He played 7 years as a linebacker for the NFL (Philadelphia Eagles ’06-’10; Cleveland Browns ’10-‘12). Suffering for years from post-concussion syndrome, he turned to painting as a form of active meditation for healing. He lives in Santa Barbara with his wife and two daughters.

Rod Lathim

An award-winning artist and a 5th generation Santa Barbaran, Rod Lathim creates neon sculptures that explore the fascinating interaction between matter and light. Often incorporating vintage objects in a new context, and marrying various artistic styles and epochs, his work references pop, minimalism, retrofuturism and deconstruction, by turns playful and deeply spiritual. New York-based art critic Benji Su has described his work as “a dualistic reminder of art history.” Two large, commissioned assemblage works of Rod’s hang in the main lobby of the Boston Quincy Marriott Hotel. He has exhibited extensively in galleries in Southern California and is very pleased to be showing in New York City at the Kate Oh Gallery in November of 2022.