July 23 – September 11, 2009 Lenzner Family Art Gallery
In the second Emerging Artist series, Los Angeles-based Canadian artist Karen Lofgren creates a site-specific project for the Lenzner Family Art Gallery at Pitzer College. Lofgren’s richly evocative and provoking objects—a gigantic gold-linked chain, a life-size unicorn made from Christmas lights and transparent tape and golden chain spider webs—are made from a collection of unusual substances and materials that can be both somber and absurd. Alluding to a host of diverse references—minimalism, corporate architecture, rock and consumer culture aesthetics—Lofgren’s highly unique, ‘life-scale’ sculptural works and installations tackle a range of subjects including medieval alchemy, natural history, politics and philosophy. Alluding to multiple narratives, the works wrestle with their materiality and deliver a highly satisfying visual experience. For the Lenzner Gallery, Lofgren will flood the floor with gold puddles.
Kyungmi Shin, Babel: The Chaos of Melancholy
July 16 – September 11, 2009
Pitzer Art Galleries, Pitzer College
18 pages, with color reproductions
Introduction by Max King Cap
Interview by Ciara Ennis
Edited by Kira Poplowski
Catalogue designed by Gabriela Contreras & Anna Mendoza
Los Angeles-based Korean American artist, Kyungmi Shin will develop a site-specific installation for the Nichols Gallery at Pitzer College. Synthesizing and expanding upon many of the formal and conceptual themes explored in her recent projects, this solo exhibition is Shin’s most ambitious work to date.
Babel: The Chaos of Melancholy takes its name from a quotation cited in Robert Burton’s infamous work, the Anatomy of Melancholy (1621). Written to combat the debilitating effects of depression, Burton compares the “confusion of tongues”—in the Biblical story of the Tower of Babel—with the eviscerating effects of melancholy. Taking Burton’s quotation as her starting point, Shin’s creates a sprawling, vertiginous installation reaching from the second floor mezzanine to the gallery floor below. Comprised of scrap metals, recycled plastic, discarded building materials, trash, photo collage and glass, the 25 foot high installation faces a large-scale projection on the opposing wall. Featuring video footage from Dubai juxtaposed with clips from a shantytown near Shin’s studio home in Ghana, the work raises challenging issues about class, race, economics and global politics. Furthermore, Shin’s recycled and scrap materials collaged together references the make-shift and impoverished shantytowns ubiquitous in certain parts of the world and contrasts them with the wealth displayed in ‘uber’ rich communities elsewhere.
PITZER COLLEGE ART GALLERIES: Nichols Gallery, Broad Center; Lenzner Family Art Gallery, Atherton Hall; Salathe Gallery, McConnell Center; Barbara Hinshaw Memorial Gallery, Grove House
Soo Kyung Bae
I am a senior at Pitzer College, majoring in media studies and art. I have been taking photographs since high school and dreaming about being a photographer since I served in the Korean military in 2007. My work, Puzzled Hearted, takes the form of a large-scale photograph. I explore interpersonal relationships, particularly the pain from separation. As society becomes more sophisticated technologically, more emphasis is placed on money, competition and individualism. As a result, relationships often suffer. I am interested in the relationship between artist, audience and object, and creating a dialogue between them. My work is influenced by Korean filmmaker Kiduk Kim and the feminist photographer Cindy Sherman. Kiduk’s films deal with the intense and insatiable desires that affect us all. His characters are socially isolated and suffer, and he brutally depicts their conflicts. I am impressed by Cindy Sherman’s untitled still cuts and her ugly and brutal photographs of figure models. While her bloody and brutal pictures do not depict beauty, I thought she was grappling with different types of beauty. [clear]
My passion for art and painting has been with me ever since I was very young. At an early age I knew my ambition—my dream—was to become a fine art painter. My mentor, an expert in trompe l’oeil, focused my training on 18th and 19th century masters like Vincent Van Gogh and John Singer Sargent. His teachings and attention to detail greatly influenced my work. Therefore, my approach has been from a traditional and academic standpoint. My work describes the human condition and one’s relationship to the self. Although classically rendered, the compositions and subject matter place my work in the present. Despite my impressionistic style, which verges on abstraction, I am dedicated to being a contemporary artist. Recently in Italy, I immersed myself in Renaissance art, but realized upon return that my relationship to my own traditional painting and sculpture had shifted. While I will always have an appreciation for 18th and 19th century painting, I am much more interested in contemporary concerns. Recent studies of English and world literature have led to a fascination with the uncanny. My works explore unspoken fantasies, fears and dreams. Fearless of vivid color and bold brush strokes, I draw the viewer into the dreamscapes of my canvasses and hold them in a trance. [clear]
My work explores how process plus diverse materials creates exciting and unpredictable results. I am especially interested in processes that take advantage of the material’s natural properties in new and innovative ways. I am currently exploring wood in its many forms. Among other things, wood can be carved, bent, burnt and used in its raw state. In Tall Duel Twin (2009) I used fire to shape the wood. I began with a series of indentations and drilled holes in the wood. I then set fire to the wood using lighter fluid and wax. Fire cannot be completely controlled, adding to the spontaneity and unpredictability of the work. The color changes that resulted from the burning are an important aspect of the work—sooty black, gradations of umber, the natural tan of raw wood. I am greatly inspired by Richard Serra’s Torqued Ellipses (1996), which influenced both the scale and physicality of Tall Duel Twin. [clear]
I do not see art as a field of study, but as a lifestyle. I create daily—painting, cooking, improvisational expression, real human interaction, artful knot-tying. I believe that art is a form of human consciousness and a way to interact infinitely with the universe. I weave and stitch together natural and man-made objects, finding beauty in the mundane, in nature’s subtle harmonies of color and texture. I take scraps and random objects from my daily life and transform them into artworks. Orange peels, pistachio nuts, avocado pits, fallen leaves, dead butterflies, driftwood, ripped pages of a book, discarded bus tickets, used tea bags, broken fence posts and lone feathers form beautiful patterns and details in the world and in my daily existence. By placing these overlooked objects on a pedestal, viewers re-experience things they may have missed. I utilize unusual natural forms to recreate a new understanding of nature. The improvised and repetitive knots that I tie retrace the tangled lines back to my childhood when I first began weaving and knitting. I find joy in meticulous and intricate processes. I find that my art is not just the result of my work, but also the meditative journey along the way. I want to make people look, both to nature and to themselves, to see and seek their own interpretations of what is beautiful. [clear]
As an artist I believe in acquiring the necessary skills and craft to master the materials I work with, which in my case is wood. I have been working intimately with wood—learning to carve, shape and connect—for some time and believe that in my work art, labor and craft become one. My aim is to breathe new life into the once living, now dead, material so it can trigger a memory of its former self. Although these works can be experienced both formally and conceptually, the inherent sensuousness of the beauty of the wood can be understood intuitively. A certain level of craft and expertise is required to manipulate the wood in specific ways. An intimate understanding of what tools can do and how they function is vital. When I begin to work on a sculpture I am not sure how it will develop. This uncertainty excites me, and allows me to make full use of my imaginative potential and to enjoy the journey along the way. [clear]
I started making artwork as soon as I could hold a crayon. Throughout my career as an artist, I have painted murals, explored multiple media including airbrush, oils and acrylics and organized several exhibitions and artwalks. Since 2005, I have been making large-scale mixed media sculptural works that are politically and conceptually engaged. These works explore familiar American cultural, political and corporate icons, which are deconstructed to create new objects that reflect on dominant symbols in our consumer-driven society. These symbols are ubiquitous, embedded in every experience we have. The materials I use include candy canes, Christmas lights, wood, vinyl, foam, fabric and many other diverse materials. Many of my installations are, at first glance, humorous or shocking—an attempt to draw the viewer into a conversation about the issues and concerns raised in the work. [clear]
As an artist, the process of creating—transforming clay into a smooth vessel or yarn into an enchanting object—holds the most meaning. Art has many functions—it can serve as a creative outlet, be used as a therapeutic tool and may be incorporated into our daily lives. I have formed an intimate relationship with my art practice, deriving both calming and stimulating benefits from the act of making artwork. When my hands are creating, my mind is soothed, immersed in the serenity of the process. My work is influenced by Liza Lou’s meticulous artistic practice and by Phil Borges’s sublime portraits. I have great respect for the tradition, skill and everyday themes inherent in Maria Martinez’s pottery as well as Felix-Gonzales Torres’s gift for engaging the viewer in his work. In Untitled (2009), I explore the range of responses that impacts the viewer. Drawing on craft techniques learned in childhood, I strive for clarity through clean lines and repetitive forms as a means to create a space of contemplation—aesthetic as well as spiritual reflection. Immersed in the work, the viewer will undergo a tranquil and intimate experience that will reflect my ideas as well as allowing for their own interpretation of the work. Untitled comes alive with the interaction and participation of the viewer whose mind may wander in the way that mine often does while working with my hands. [clear]
Kyla Van Maanen
My work is influenced by my exploration of biological and ecological systems and my fascination with natural history. Through an investigation of the subtle beauty in plant and animal life forms, I intend for viewers to take a closer look at the intricate and ornate detail in the natural world. Influenced by a family of artists, I have kept sketchbooks throughout my life and documented my travels through drawings and writing. My recent work is influenced by memories and photographs I took during a five-month stay in Costa Rica, a country full of astounding biological diversity. With meticulous, topographical line work and close attention to detail, I depict both rare and mundane biological phenomena in ink and pencil. [clear]
My work is a visual exploration of the processes by which the mind constructs the world—the negotiations with knowledge, memories, feelings, impulses and desires that constitute our sense of self. The notion of history as a continuously shifting understanding of our position in time and space is utilized as the framework for the unfolding of these concepts—history provides the geology upon which humanity ultimately constructs its identity. Informing the content of my pieces is a fascination with the role science plays in the endless oscillation between opposing viewpoints observed in the evolution of human ideas. From a very early age, my interests have been fueled by a great curiosity and objective examination of the natural world and the creatures inhabiting it. On the canvas, ideological arrivals and departures are reenacted both as an acknowledgment of inherited conversations, as well as in a bid to achieve that—perhaps ultimately unachievable—solace that comes from addressing a problem in a way that transcends the materiality of the work. [clear]
As a photographer, I am fascinated with vision. It began as a simple interest in how natural light is transformed through the camera lens onto film—an interest in the difference between how we see “reality” in person and in photographs. The sets and scenarios I constructed in my photographs explore notions of vision, seeing, visibility and looking – the difference between passively receiving images and actively looking. I play off these ideas through my very formal photographic process and presentation. I incorporate visual puns to push the viewer to further question conventional ways of seeing. I am especially concerned with how the viewer looks at a photograph. I present posing figures whose ability to gaze out at the viewer has been taken away from them—I intentionally place the viewer in this uncomfortable, voyeuristic position so they must begin to question how and what they are seeing and its implications. It is a means of exploring our relation to privacy in the technological world in which we live.
January 29 – March 27, 2009 Lenzner Family Art Gallery
Pitzer College Art Galleries inaugurates its new Emerging Artist Program in the Lenzner Family Art Gallery with its first artist-in-residence, William Ransom. Ransom, who makes meticulously crafted, large-scale sculptural works from recycled and found wood, will transform the space into an experimental hub from December 2008 to January 2009, culminating in a site-specific installation that includes composting and other biological entropic activities. Fusing the old and the new, Ransom combines nostalgia for bygone materials and production methods with sustainable solutions for a future lifestyle.
01-22-09 through 03-27-09
Nichols Gallery, Broad Center & Lenzner Family Art Gallery, Atherton Hall
By intentionally corrupting the digital files of these insistently barbarous Abu Ghraib pictures, Los Angeles-based artist Clayton Campbell transformed them into large-scale, geometric, painterly works. Bands of translucent reds, blues and purples migrate across the surface, shredding and obscuring as they go, allowing an indulgence in sensuous abstraction, a short-lived reprieve from the heinous acts. Resembling ancient Mesopotamian sculptural fragments—like those looted at the beginning of the U.S. “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” the bodies detach and re-combine in surprisingly exquisite arrangements. The bands, reminiscent of those used to adjust the color image on our televisions, imply our readiness to accommodate and compromise our points of view. In a post-9/11 world, are we willing to accept torture and surrender our civil liberties? What are our true colors and how much are we willing to adjust them? Campbell‘s formal filter of distortion becomes a metaphor for averting our eyes—something we are only too eager to do.
September 25 – November 23, 2008 Pitzer College Art Galleries
Lynn Blumenthal, Juan Downey, Antonio Muntadas, Marshall Reese, Michael Smith, Bill Viola, Natalie Bookchin, Mark Boulos, Regina Jose Galindo, Pablo Pijnappel, Artur Zmijewski
Curated by Ciara Ennis and Ming-Yuen S. Ma as part of Resolution 3: Video Praxis in Global Spaces
Pitzer Art Galleries & LACE present Narrowcast: Reframing Global Video 1986/2008 curated by Pitzer Art Galleries Director/Curator Ciara Ennis and Associate Professor of Media Studies Ming-Yuen S. Ma. The exhibition is part of Resolution 3, a collaboration between Pitzer College’s Media Studies program, Pitzer Art Galleries and LACE on the occasion of LACE’s thirtieth anniversary.
Narrowcastre-presents selected works from LACE’s seminal 1986 video exhibition Resolution: A Critique of Video Art and pairs them in compelling and unexpected ways with contemporary works, thus framing the medium’s brief history both formally and thematically. Resolution was one of the first exhibitions in the United States to embrace video as a serious art form and to discuss it in critical terms. Revisiting Resolution in relation to a number of exceptional contemporary video works demonstrates the influence that video art has had on artistic practice over the past two decades and testifies to the pivotal role and ubiquitous presence that the medium has in the contemporary global art world.
The ten selected artists in Narrowcast—five historical: Lyn Blumenthal, Juan Downey, Antonio Muntadas in collaboration with Marshall Reese, Michael Smith, Bill Viola and five contemporary: Natalie Bookchin, Mark Boulos, Regina José Galindo, Pablo Pijnappel, Artur Zmijewski—re-present Resolution in a way that emphasizes resonance and precedence rather than a comprehensive survey. And while the selected works, one from each artist, do not fit into neat categories, Curators Ennis and Ma have found historically significant connections that highlight the multi-layered and fragmented narratives inherent in both the archival and contemporary works.
Separated into five loose categories—embroidered narratives, autobiographical confessionals, restaging histories, documentary and reportage, trance and ritual—the works in Narrowcast reframe content as well as formal strategies that are as relevant in 1986 as it is now, thereby reflecting the range and inventiveness of the non-traditional narrative structures central to these artist’s works.
05-16-08 thru 08-08-08
Nichols Gallery & Lenzner Family Art Gallery
Featuring: Steve Cahill, Eddie Gonzalez, Alexandra Juhasz, Gina Lamb, Jesse Lerner, Jessica Lawless, Ming-Yuen S. Ma, Jessica McCoy, Kathryn Miller and Kelly Sears
Steve Cahill’s 360° digital images are the contemporary descendents of the panoramas of Eadweard Muybridge and other nineteenth-century photographic pioneers. Cahill creates impossible illusions by stitching together multiple exposures of a landscape or an interior. The resulting scenes are eerily familiar, yet uncanny pictures of places we may think we recognize but appear warped and distorted by the camera’s lens and the compression of long exposures (ranging from ten to thirty minutes) into a single scene. Cahill’s images remind us that the artist and the camera do not merely record the objective world, but create new perceptions.
Steven J. Cahill received his MFA from Claremont Graduate University in 1979. Cahill has participated in numerous exhibitions including: Extreme Places, California Museum of Photography, Riverside, CA (2007); A Gathering of Photographers, Back to the Grind Gallery, Riverside, CA (2004); The Vertical View, Salathe Gallery, Pitzer College, Claremont, CA (1995); Pasadena Only, Pasadena City College Art Gallery, Pasadena, CA (1989); Maine Photographic Workshops Annual Show, Nikon House, Rockefeller Center, NY (1986); Light Sensitive VI, Gainesville, FL (1984). Steven Cahill is visiting assistant professor of art at Pitzer College.
Eddie Gonzalez’s series of posters may appear to announce a Hollywood premiere, but they are actually fictional advertisements for the end-date of the ancient Maya calendar. Prophesized as the transition from the present world into the next, December 21, 2012, has been imagined by many as a “doomsday.” Others look forward to the date for the return of Quetzalcoatl, the great, feathered serpent revered by the Pre-Columbian cultures of Mesoamerica. Indeed, one might ponder whether 12-21-12 portends catastrophe, or the beginning of a new age. Gonzalez views the date as a last opportunity to reverse our current destructive course and heal the earth.
Eddie Gonzalez is a Pomona, California, based artist whose work includes graphic design, video, sculpture and silk screening. He received his BA in Media Studies and art from Pitzer College in 2004. He currently works as the assistant director of production for the Intercollegiate Media Studies Program at Pitzer College. [clear]
Alexandra Juhasz’s work as a director, producer, scholar and activist embodies her commitment to feminist theory and practice. As a videomaker living in New York in the ’80s and ’90s, Juhasz produced activist videos that documented a city ravaged by AIDS. Working with newly available, inexpensive camcorders, Juhasz and her collaborators reframed mainstream media representations of AIDS and disseminated much-needed information on the unfolding crisis. Her more recent short video, Naming Prairie, examines a Jewish naming ceremony for the daughter of a lesbian couple, offering an intimate view of how rituals and traditions are transformed to accommodate contemporary lives and families.
Alexandra Jeanne Juhasz received her PhD in Cinema Studies from New York University in 1992. Juhasz has participated in numerous exhibitions and screenings of her work including: the Sundance, Berlin, Toronto, Hong Kong, Creteil, Seoul, and Flaherty International Film Festivals; the New York, L.A., San Francisco, Toronto, Torino, and London Gay and Lesbian Film Festivals; the Whitney Biennial, Guggenheim, New Museum, Museo del Bario, LACE, London ICA, Wexner Center for the Arts. Juhasz’ feature film The Watermelon Woman (1995) earned “Teddy Bear” award at the Berlin Film Festival, the Audience Awards at Creteil Women’s Festival, Torino, Toronto and Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Festivals, Taipei Golden Horse Festival, and was featured at the New York and San Francisco Gay Festivals and Toronto Film Festival (1996). Juhasz’s short film Bad Bosses Go To Hell (1997) was screened at the Palm Springs International Short Fest, East Hamptons Short Film Festival, IFFM, airs on IFC, HBO Latin America, PBS, British Airways and atomfilm.com. Juhasz has received numerous artist grants and fellowships for her work including: the Wexner Center for the Arts: Editing Fellowship (2007); C-100, Inc., production support for Released (2000); Astraea Fund for Women: post-production grant for Women of Vision (1998); and California Council on the Humanities: Research Award for Women of Vision (1994). Alexandra Juhasz is professor of Media Studies at Pitzer College. [clear]
Gina Lamb is a media activist whose work has dealt with race, gender identity, sexual orientation, class, and immigrant issues. A collective portrait of the young gay black men in the House and Ball community of Los Angeles, Still Here: Becoming Legendary is the product of many collaborators within a community that has been defined by its status as a “triple minority—young, poor and gay.” Lamb’s raw and honest, yet artfully edited video eschews the omniscient voice-over of traditional documentaries. The young men in the video are not merely characters in a film. They are co-authors who narrate their own lives and worlds.
Gina Lamb received her MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1987. Lamb has participated in numerous exhibitions and screenings of her work including: Queer Youth Nation, OUTFEST, Los Angeles (2007, 2006, 2005, 2004); London Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, NewFest – New York, Mix-Mexico City (2005); Wipe Your Feet & The Chorizo Show, Track 16 Gallery, Santa Monica (2003); Queer Youth Nation, LAG&LC and LA Freewaves New Media Festival (2002); REACH OUT: LA and Beyond, LA Freewaves Video Festival (2000); and Mixed Memories, The Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles, CA (1999).
Lamb has received many honors and awards including: Audience Award Best Documentary Short, FUSION Los Angeles LGBT People of Color Film Festival (2006); Audience Award Best Documentary Short, OUTFEST (2005); California Arts Council, Media Arts A.I.R. Grant (2002-03); City of Inglewood, Resolution of Appreciation in the Arts (2001); City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Grant – Media Arts (1998-2001); LACE/California Arts Council, Media Arts A.I.R. Grant (1996-98); and Anonymous Was A Woman Award (1996). Gina Lamb is visiting assistant professor of Media Studies at Pitzer College. [clear]
Jesse Lerner’s Ruins is a clever collage of found and fabricated footage that skewers the museumification of Mesoamerican artifacts and their conscription in the nationalist politics of the twentieth century. Lerner’s pelicula documental falsificada or “fake documentary” is a border-crosser of sorts, troubling the distinctions between the documentary and art, high and low, engagé critique and avant-garde experimentation, fiction and reality. Focusing on the story of a Mexican counterfeiter of antiquities whose work has been exhibited in major U.S. and European museums, Ruins is a meditation on notions of truth and colonialist biases of archaeology, ethnography, film and history.
Jesse Lerner received his PhD in Cultural Studies from Claremont Graduate University in 2006 and his MA in visual anthropology from the University of Southern California in 1991. Lerner has participated in many screenings and exhibitions of his work including: Galeria de Arte Contemporaneo, Xalapa, Veracruz (2008); Filmoteca de la UNAM, Mexico City (2007); Cinemateca Uruguaya, Montevideo (2007); Viva Mexico! Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw (2007); The Free Screen, Cinematheque Ontario, Toronto (2007); The Backroom, New Langton Arts and San Francisco Camerawork, Celda Contemporanea/Claustro de Sor Juana, Mexico City, and Kadist Art Foundation, Paris, (2007, 2006); J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (2006); New York Underground Film Festival (2005, 2001); The Road to Aztlan: Art from a Mythic Homeland, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA, Albuquerque Museum, NM, Austin Museum of Art and Texas Fine Art Association, Austin, TX (2001-2002). Among Lerner’s many awards are: the Everett Helm Fellowship, Indiana University (2007); Director’s Citation, Black Maria Film Festival (for Magnavoz); Fulbright Fellow, Council for the International Exchange of Scholars (2006); Director’s Choice, Black Maria Film Festival (for T.S.H.); Honorable Mention, Ann Arbor Film Festival (for T.S.H.); Project Pericles Grant, Pitzer College; U.S.-Mexico Fund for Culture (for The Shock of Modernity); Getty/California Community Foundation Visual Arts Fellowship (2002); Mellon Foundation Grant, Pitzer College (2000). Jesse Lerner is associate professor of Media Studies at Pitzer College. [clear]
Jessica Lawless’s Past Present Future explores the ongoing relationship between violence and gender in a series of outdoor self-defense classes that provoke a re-thinking of our persistently rigid definitions of femininity. Filmed over a month, the work traces the development of the participants’ skills from awkward self-awareness to skillful coordination. After a successful choreographed demonstration in a parking lot, the group takes their act to the 101 Freeway in Los Angeles. Dressed in drag—to demonstrate the range and fluidity of interpretations of femininity—the group performs their self-defense strategies along the median and at the Freeway’s exits.
Jessica Lawless received her MFA from the University of California, Irvine in 2006. Lawless has participated in numerous exhibitions including: Two Weeks Awareness Examining Violence Against Women, The Claremont Colleges, Claremont, CA (2008); Digital Artifacts, Artists Television Access, San Francisco, CA (2008); Visualized Film Festival, Denver, CO (2007); End of Gays, Outfest Platinum Program REDCAT, Los Angeles, CA (2006); Pilot, Chicago, IL (2005); Lesbian Arts Festival, Dublin, Ireland (2005); Homo A Gogo Arts Festival, Olympia, Washington (2004). Lawless has also participated in numerous film festivals and screenings of her work including: Unhung Heroes (Dir. Lazlo Ilya Pearlman), (2002), distributed by Frameline, San Francisco, CA; Paint it Black (2002) distributed by AK Press, Oakland, CA. Her published writings and presentations include: “Moving Image Review” Solicited article on The Gendercator and queer arts censorship GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies (2008); “Past Present Future: The Multiple Starting Points of a Video Project,” Digital Artifact Magazine: An On-line Journal, (2007); Black Masks Black Skin: “Anarchists in LA,” KCOP’s “Exclusive Investigative Report” To the Quick: The Journal Magazine of Media and Cultural Studies at Binghamton University (2001); The Queer Love Boat: The Politics of Inclusion in Visual Culture, Panelist for 2008 CAA Annual Conference, Dallas, TX. Jessica Lawless is visiting professor of Media Studies at Pitzer College. [clear]
Ming-Yuen S. Ma
Ming-Yuen S. Ma’s reinterpretation of Yoko Ono’s seminal Cut Piece (1964) places it firmly in the present tense. In Ono’s original work audience members were invited to cut as little or as much of her clothes off while she sat motionless. In keeping with the Fluxus spirit and Ono’s instructions for the performance—Ono agreed that others could perform Cut Piece regardless of their sex—Ma invited a diverse group of writers as well as visual and performance artists to reinterpret the work. Informed by varied social, racial and cultural contexts, the performances were profoundly innovative in their scope, taking forms that extended and reinvented Ono’s original action both formally and conceptually.
Ming-Yuen S. Ma received his MFA from California Institute of the Arts in 1994. His experimental videos and installations including: Movements East and West (2003); Mother/Land (2000); Myth(s) of Creation (1997); Sniff (1997); Slanted Vision (1995); Toc Storee (1992); and Between The Lines: Who Speaks? (1994-96), have been exhibited nationally and internationally in a wide range of venues. As a curator and media activist, Ma has been affiliated with L.A. Freewaves, Visual Communications, The Rockefeller Foundation, Creative Work Fund, American Film Institute, The Los Angeles Festival, FAR (Foundation for Art Resources), MIX/NYC, and other media organizations at different points in his career. He has received grants and awards from Art Matters, Inc., the Brody Arts Fund, the Durfee Foundation, Long Beach Museum of Art, ESTAF/NEA, and other institutions. Ming-Yuen S. Ma is a Los Angeles-based media artist and assistant professor of Media Studies Program at Pitzer College. [clear]
Jessica McCoy’s immense oil paintings of fragmented interiors are reminiscent of David Hockney’s elaborate Polaroid collages. Using her own photographs as source material, McCoy cleverly constructs labyrinthine compositions that weave multiple interior views into intricate narratives that intrigue and entice. McCoy’s kaleidoscopic scenes present keyhole views into deeply private moments that frequently involve lone female figures. Reclining partially clad on beds, the women are fully confident in their own seclusion and act accordingly. Thrust into the role of shameless voyeur—a position we may or may not enjoy—we are free to indulge in the heady sensuous drama played out in the work.
Jessica McCoy received her MFA from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 2001. McCoy has participated in numerous exhibitions including: Dreams, Fanny Garver Gallery, Madison, WI (2007); Ontario Juried Exhibition, Ontario Museum of Art, (2007); Jessica McCoy “Recent Works,” Fanny Garver Gallery, Madison, WI (2005); Women Painters, Fanny Garver Gallery, Madison, WI (2001); 33rd Annual Juried Show, Porter Butts Gallery, UW-Madison, (2001). She has received many grants and fellowships including: Vilas Fellowship University of Wisconsin Madison (2001); Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Grant (2003-04); and the Los Angeles County Metro Expo Line Contract 2008-current. Jessica McCoy is assistant professor of art at Pitzer College. [clear]
Informed by her studies in biology, botany and ecology, Kathryn Miller’s eclectic practice is deeply concerned with social, political and environmental issues and often takes the form of joint works with individuals. This collaborative impulse and blurring of practice drives Miller’s projects, making them accessible to a much wider public. Like that of British artist Andy Goldsworthy, Miller’s work, frequently site-specific, comprises natural and found objects—driftwood, pebbles, shells, earth—that she transforms into elaborate sculptures and installations. Miller treats her materials with obsessive care and attention imbuing the works with talismanic qualities despite their often ephemeral nature.
Kathryn Miller received her MFA from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1992. Miller has participated in numerous exhibits including: Desert Photography: The Other Side of Paradise, Palm Springs Desert Museum, Palm Springs, CA (2005); Arroyo Pescadero Interpretive Arena, Puente Hills, CA (2004); Mostra Asfalto, Palazzo della Tiennale, Milan, Italy (2003); Ecoart=radical approaches to restoring the earth, Ecoartspace, Beacon, NY (2003); Creative Interventions, Ecological Design Center, School of Architecture and Allied Arts, University of Oregon, Eugene (2003); Art and Community Landscapes/Area 52, water clean-up project for the Arroyo Seco, Sycamore Grove Park, Los Angeles (2003); Ecovention, Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH (2002); The Function of Art / The Art of Function, Kellogg Gallery, California State Polytechnic, Pomona, CA (2002); Water Works, BC Space Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA (2001); Snapshots, Contemporary Museum, Baltimore, Baltimore, MD (2000). Kathryn Miller lectures widely on art and the environment and has published many artist’s books. Some of these titles include: Seduction and Discord in the Frozen Dinner (2005); Nature Vs Pavement (2003); Seed Bombs: A Short History (2002); and Lawns in the Desert by Kathryn Miller and Michael Honer (2001). Kathryn Miller is professor of art with an interdisciplinary emphasis in environmental studies at Pitzer College.
Comprised of hundreds of found images culled from National Geographic-type publications from the ’50s and ’60s, Kelly Sears’ archly suspenseful film The Drift creates a collage of compelling animation. Reminiscent of Cold War-inspired sci-fi movies from the ’50s such as The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and It Came from Outer Space (1953), The Drift dramatically narrates the fate of a doomed space voyage that returns with only a few on board. Unable to resist a mysterious and beguiling sound, the astronauts were lured from their ship, destined to remain “drifting” through outer space for eternity. Combining Soviet era paranoia with the romance of a Greek tragedy, The Drift presents a rich and compelling narrative.
Kelly Sears received her MFA from the University of California, San Diego in 2005. Sears has participated in many group exhibitions including: Against the Grain, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CA (2008); Compound Objects from the Spy Who Loves You, Circus Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (2007); Underground Cinemachine, Machine Project, Los Angeles, CA (2007); The Latest Fiction, Cirrus Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (2006); Fine Line, Cirrus Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (2005); Fresh, Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA (2005); Domesticity, Herbert Marcuse Gallery, UCSD La Jolla, CA (2003); and Video Scoring, Machine Project, Los Angeles, CA (2003). Among Sears’ many awards are the Director’s Choice – Black Maria Film Festival, Jersey City, NJ (2008); Best Animated Film – Northampton Independent Film Festival (2007); Spirit Award for Best International Short (2007); Honorable Mention – Ann Arbor Film Festival (2006); Russel Grant, UCSD (2003); Waggerman Grant (2003). Kelly Sears is director of production for the Intercollegiate Media Studies Program at Pitzer College.
Known for his mural-scale, lushly colored paintings, engineer-turned-artist Sandeep Mukherjee concocted an exhibition of paintings and drawings made specifically for the Nichols Gallery.
Restricting his palette to black and white, Mukherjee’s three massive horizontal works, that function in concert as well as singly, allude to the natural landscape but never conspicuously. The paintings pivot back and forth between the tangible and the ethereal, pushing and pulling between figuration and abstraction. The result is a tension between the pastoral and fantastic that attracts viewers with its peculiar magnetism.
Essay – Fellow Traveler
There is the seen. There is the unseen.
The foundational edict of both Evangelicalism and the Neo-Romanticism is that the direct and personal bond between the individual and the great other is paramount—one concerns the interpretation of the Word, the other and the world. The rise of Evangelicalism was concurrent with Neo-romanticism and their turn-of-the-century currents are still felt today. In Neo-romanticism this tenet is illustrated through the passionate interpretation of the seen and unseen. Nature is depicted as a mysterious creature resistant to share its secrets. Evangelicalism speaks in tongues in order to articulate the whelming ecstasy for the Risen Christ. Each has its troubadours, preacher, convert, fanatic, poet, playwright, and painter.
The invention of language is essential to both movements. An appropriately poetic idiom is required to capture the instinctive expressions for which there are no adequate words or symbols, and no capability to express the ineffable. The religious experience is often conducted in a communal setting and has far more tools of persuasion—song, solidarity, stage craft—at work than during the solitary contemplation of a work of art. This inadequacy of language, however, has not stopped attempts to use analogous forms to approximate the sensation of the art experience. We have Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, mastermind of the Germanic peoples and amateur painter, writing, I call architecture frozen music, and Simonides of Ceos, lyric poet and father of mnemonics (remember this, we’ll come back to it later) attempting a similar comparison, Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting with the gift of speech. Still yet we have a greater authority, Balthus, weighing in on the subject, Painting is a language that cannot be replaced by another language. I don’t know what to say about what I paint, really.
The problem is that painting is illiterate, not that it cannot read, of course, but in the more clearly illustrative German (and Dutch and French) word for illiterate, analphabet; not unlettered but without letters, that is letterforms, with which it might construct a notational and translatable bulletin. Instead we must rely upon its empathetic gesture, expressionist color, ritualized process and emphatic materials. We rely on the worthiness of the artist, the only resident and therefore native guide, to usher us revealingly through this world they have created, this landscape of invented physics, instincts and senses.
It is in this manner that Sandeep Mukherjee attempts to create an alternative cosmology. His territory is one of surface tension and transparency, where will-o’-the-wisps are not denatured down to ignes fatui. In this land, this Mukherjia, past and present tense are the same and a line is also a volume. His mark making is often the lightest of gestures, mere creases, both concave and convex, in translucent parchment stained and pigmented with aqueous media. Sometimes brushed, often blown, onto to the surface of the paintings, his shapes feather into animals and plants that are indistinguishable from one another. Unlike the current trend of nursery realism where quirky figures are illustrated performing peculiar actions among a few fanciful rocks and trees set against an undifferentiated ground, Mukherjee’s fantastic creations don’t call attention to themselves. They all seem to be caught in the act of hiding, like a will-o’-the-wisp. He doesn’t draw faeries or hybrid plant concoctions but creates the sensation of something real glimpsed just out of the corner of one’s eye, too quick for one’s turning head. In this territory planes recede—or do not—and shapes reveal as often as overlap the others. In this terrain a flexible focal distance overtakes the traditional foreground, middle ground and background to create a concurrently immediate and gradual relation to the picture plane.
This landscape is not without its consistencies. Motifs recur and serve both as a standard by which other similar visual relationships might be deciphered and mnemonic milestones by which we might make our way through the maze full of shifting solidities. For in this landscape the earth is often viscous and the ponds are made of colorful adamant tiles, and either may be rendered in an illusory ripple spectrum, sometimes solid and might be tread upon, other times liquid in which we may be immersed. Mukherjee’s visual language is one engulfed in euphoria, fully involved and trance-like and possessed of its conviction. All of these strategies are suggestive of an environment with which we are familiar but have never been. It is not a dream world but a land of déjà vu, familiar but unsurveyed. It describes itself in a visual language that is not completely foreign yet still unintelligible; it is the glossalia necessary to describe its history and cultural fables—things happen and have happened here, creating a curious and unique romance; its visual strategies speak in a gibberish tongue but we recognize it as a language and although we cannot decipher it we find it lyrical and melodic, a feat of conjuring for which there is no incantation.
When the Duke is banished by his evil and usurping brother in Shakespeare’s As You Like It, he and his followers go back to nature, living as free men in the forest of Arden. There they come to prefer the rustic satisfactions of the natural existence to the vulgar excesses of life at court. Thrust into this essentially foreign lifestyle they make necessity a virtue and embrace their hardships as an alternative and even superior environment; nature triumphs over the mannered construction of royal residence. In articulating this sentiment to another exile who wanders into their happy camp, the Duke describes the new vocabulary of the woods, one that, he convincingly conveys, all around is peppered with a rapture that cannot be found elsewhere, “And this our life exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in every thing. I would not change it.”
January 29-March 22, 2008
Lenzner Family Art Gallery
Featured in Takashi Murakami’s 2007 selection of emerging artists, (Pitzer Alumna ’95) Lizabeth Eva Rossof’s playfully provoking and visually arresting experimental practice includes collaborative performance, public intervention and site-specific installations. Examining social, political and environmental issues, Rossof actively invites public participation from individuals as well as governing authorities in an attempt to engage a wider audience in her opening dialogue.