At the Pinnacle site of the Artlantic project at the corner of Pacific and Kentucky avenues, guests will find the work of Robert Barry woven throughout the structure.

His words, landscaped in light boxes, are there to evoke feelings of personal experience from visitors.

But this isn't Barry's first dive into verbal art.

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"I like words because they kind of relate," Barry said. "When you look at a word, you sort of feel personal about it. You get some kind of reaction. It's like the word is speaking to you."

Usually sticking to color, the artist is taking a step into the unknown with his use of light for Artlantic.

"It really just had to do with my idea of what Atlantic City was, the idea of words lighting up," Barry said. "This is (my first project) using electric lights where the words actually light up. All the others have just been on the sides of walls or on windows, paint, vinyl lettering. So I try to use whatever the situation calls for really, whatever material it is. The big difference here is that it's in the ground that people walk around. It's in a park and the words light up."

This new use of light isn't going unnoticed, and it offers a creative feature most parks are lacking.

"Each letter in fact is an individual light box, so those words will be glowing from dusk until the wee hours of the morning on that sort of dark lot. It will really enliven the space," said Lance Fung, curator of Artlantic. "What I liked about this is all parks close at dusk. But one third of the exhibition on the Pinnacle site is Robert Barry, and his then gets to be in full glory in the evening."

The light boxes will weave through the giant grass mounds and help link the works of the other artists at the site, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov and Kiki Smith.

Viewers will likely walk around the complex trying to combine the words with each other, but each stands alone in different colors so that each one works as its own piece of art.

"When I was working on the exhibition design, I was trying to create three reverent, unique and inspirational spaces for three visionary artists - who are historical - to shine," Fung said. "So, in each of those mounds we'll have one artist, and on the outside of those mounds linking it together, stitching it all together, are the words of Robert Barry."

Made of colored plastic on top and metal on the sides to protect from the elements, the boxes form words such as "unknown," "passion," "look" and "real." The words, Barry hopes, will resonate with visitors to the site.

When it comes to picking the words used in Artlantic, Barry said there was no formula and the process was strictly intuitive.

"I try to use words that suggest certain states of mind that are appropriate for the situation," Barry said. "I don't want to get into some kind of text or something that describes the situation directly. I don't want it to come off as some kind of commentary on the situation. I just like people to deal with each word individually."

Barry has a storied career in art that spans decades.

Born in 1936 in New York City, Barry studied art at Hunter College, getting both his bachelor's and master's degrees at the school.

Today, he has about 200 solo shows under his belt and hundreds more group showings. Despite saying he is "getting old" and "just so tired of" one-man shows, Barry is keeping busy in the art world.

Working mostly in Europe, he is preparing a big installation in Dijon, France, at the Consortium, which is a beautiful old museum. His word art will adorn a large window on the museum in the spring. He is also planning a show in Brussels, Belgium, for next year.

The artist is currently showing at the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum in New York, as well as the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. Most of the major museums in the United States are showing his work, Barry said.

When it comes to the type of art Barry produces, there is no one style that suits his taste. Many consider him a "conceptual artist," but he rejects the term.

"I hate it, it's very limiting," he said. "First of all, my work is always about some kind of material. … Yes, there's a strong conceptual element to it in that it relies on the viewer, and there's some work on the part of the viewer to deal with this, but there's a strong visual element to it."

Besides words, Barry has worked in film, performance and in many materials, including marble, steel, metal, gold and more. Because conceptual suggests it's all in the mind, he said, there's no way he can be considered only a conceptual artist.

The term may stick with Barry because of his work in the late 1960s, when he joined a group of artists who were considered conceptual and whose work was extremely influential.

Robert Barry

Born: New York City, 1936. He is 76 and lives in Teaneck.

Known for: Word art, using different materials to create what seems to be random words, attempting to evoke a personal relationship between the viewer and each individual word

On Artlantic Project: Robert Barry has designed light box letters that form words on outside of the grass mounds on the Pinnacle site. Words being used include 'beyond,' 'almost' and 'glorious.' Barry said, 'Words are used to communicate certain ideas. These are individual words that have a history and hopefully will resonate in their consciousness and maybe give them something to think about or recall some personal idea that they may have and just find it a personal and enjoyable experience for a while.'


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