"From West to East." (Courtesy/Junwei Zhang)

When Junwei Zhang saw pieces of tire along Interstate 5 this summer, he would pull over and load them into his car.

They eventually became part of an art installation at Chemeketa Community College’s Gretchen Schutte Art Gallery that explores connection through commuting.

“Transportation is just the media to convey my concern,” Zhang said. “Tires are just the reflection of moving and stopping.”

Zhang was an artist in residency at the gallery this summer. He was driving back and forth to the gallery from Eugene, where he’s a Master of Fine Arts student at the University of Oregon.

His exhibition "Flat Tire, Considering the Commute" runs through October 25 in Salem Bldg. 3, Rm. 122 at 4000 Lancaster Dr. N.E.

The show includes installation, sculpture, and video art. One piece -- a stack of tires with a video of the sky visible by looking down through the center -- serves as a metaphor for how people can get stuck in their own well of understanding.

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Zhang said he wants visitors to the gallery to feel connected.

“Not just thinking about this as someone’s work. I want them to feel like they are a part of this work,” he said.

The artist said there are three elements to the exhibit: space, destination and us.

Zhang said his biggest concern is that when people look at each other, they are separated by limited access.

“We’re used to viewing the other side and the way we want,” he said. “We take off from our home to another destination we can only see the place we get started, but we cannot see the destination.”

"Root." (Courtesy/Junwei Zhang)

Deanne G. Beausoleil, an art history instructor at Chemeketa Community College, said it’s a contemplative art.

“I’m completely taken aback by how thoughtful the execution of the exhibit is and how that translates to the viewer,” she said.

Beausoleil said one of the pieces uses tire tread to project a shadow that forms a landscape.

“It’s about this fast-paced world of commuting, but by using those materials we associate with the commute it makes the viewer slow down to a pace that we don’t slow down to anymore,” she said. “It’s ironic that he’s taken these things that are associated with speed, just to make us stop and think.”

The gallery is open on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Entry to the gallery is free. Those looking for more information about the gallery can call 503-365-4726 or visit the Chemeketa website.

Have a tip? Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250 or saphara@salemreporter.com.