Artist Elana Mann’s Sculptural Instruments Play with Ideas of Protest, Politics and Performance in New Pitzer College Art Galleries Exhibition

Claremont, Calif. (September 14, 2018) — Instruments of Accountability at the Pitzer College Art Galleries is the largest solo exhibition of artist Elana Mann’s interdisciplinary and interactive work to date. Named a 2017-2018 Cultural Trailblazer by the City of Los Angeles, Mann blends sculpture, performance and protest in pieces that the Los Angeles Times has called “a rare kind of poetry.” Instruments of Accountability opens along with Pitzer’s Emerging Artist Series #13, featuring Cassie Riger: Automatic Vaudeville, on September 29, at the Pitzer College Art Galleries.

Elana Mann, #metoo-rattle-battle (F.U.J.M.+S.S.) (2018); dimensions variable; ceramic, glass, wood, and paint.

Mann, who was Pitzer’s inaugural ceramics artist-in-residence last year, strives to bring “a greater consciousness to the listening and speaking we practice in everyday life,” she says on her website. Some of her best-known works meld a custom-made megaphone with a sculpted human arm, raised in a “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture. Pitzer College Art Galleries Director and Curator Ciara Ennis, who organized both exhibitions, says Mann links modern protest movements to a centuries-old device used to amplify the human voice.

“Mann’s artworks blend sculpture and performance, and blur the line between meditative objects and political engagement,” says Ennis.

Mann’s blame-game rattles and me-and-you-kazoos serve as crafted art objects as well as functional musical instruments. Instruments of Accountability also includes historic works, such as a 1970s handmade mega-kazoo-horn from Claremont’s Folk Music Center and Museum.

The Pitzer College Art Galleries planned the exhibition to coincide with the upcoming 2018 midterm elections. Through sculptural instruments, musical scores and performances, Mann’s exhibition addresses “our current moment of political reckoning, both materially and metaphorically,” Ennis says.

Instruments of Accountability won’t be limited to gallery walls and pedestals. The exhibition will spill out into college courtyards and city streets with performances related to Mann’s work, including an election-day parade on November 6, built around music pioneer Pauline Oliveros’ Grand Buddha Marching Band.

In conjunction with Instruments of Accountability, Pitzer College Art Galleries will also publish a book of songs by contemporary composers, including Pauline Oliveros, Dana Reason, and Sharon Chohi Kim and Micaela Tobin, specifically created for Mann’s sculptural instruments.

Cassie Riger, News (orange) (detail view) (2018); 114” x 150” x 124”; motor, paper, metal, plexiglass, slide projector with 80 handmade slides.

In Pitzer’s Lenzner Family Art Gallery, Cassie Riger’s exhibition Automatic Vaudeville probes contemporary times through instruments from yesteryear. Her work, which is part of Pitzer’s Emerging Artist Series, recreates early motion-picture devices to explore the nature of spectacle and desire.

Riger uses installation, kinetic sculpture, performance and photography to investigate the history of moving images and the interplay between mass media and its audience. At Pitzer, Riger mounts her own renditions of early motion-picture devices, such as the Praxinoscope or Zoetrope, that were viewer-activated. Through distortion, color filters and extremes of light and dark, she underlines the theatrical artifice of film.

Riger has described her work as aiming to “foster a consideration of cinema as a social medium—with an eye toward viewers rather than auteurs.” Her exhibition of light-based art, Prisms, won the 2018 Curator’s Lab award from Winner of Friends of Contemporary Art. She has had solo exhibitions at Northwestern University’s AIR Studio, University of California, Irvine’s Room Gallery and the Right Window Gallery in San Francisco.

The opening reception for the Pitzer College Art Galleries fall exhibitions is Saturday, September 29, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Pitzer’s Nichols Gallery. During the opening, three live performances of works by AJ Layague, Dana Reason, and Sharon Chohi Kim and Micaela Tobin will incorporate Elana Mann’s sculptural instruments. These pieces will explore the intersection of art, music and activism to address issues of domestic violence, audience participation and empowerment.

This event is free and open to the public.

About Pitzer College

Pitzer College is a nationally top-ranked undergraduate liberal arts and sciences institution. A member of The Claremont Colleges, Pitzer offers a distinctive approach to a liberal arts education by linking intellectual inquiry with interdisciplinary studies, cultural immersion, social responsibility, and community involvement. For more information, please visit

About Pitzer College Art Galleries

The Pitzer College Art Galleries’ mandate is Education and Advocacy through the Pitzer College core values—social responsibility, intercultural understanding, interdisciplinary learning, student engagement, and environmental sustainability. By following these precepts, Pitzer College Art Galleries engage and interrogate contemporary and historical issues of importance to expand our audiences’ understanding and contribution to our artistic, intellectual, and social culture. Through curatorial creativity and innovative programming, the Galleries seek to provide context, support, and a critical framework for artists and curators working today and, by doing so, inspire meaningful dialogue that fascinates, excites, and invigorates.

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