Disruption! Art and the Prison Industrial Complex

Curated by Annie Buckley

Artists: Karla Diaz, Stan Hunter, Peter Merts, Javier Quintero, Tony Ramirez, Paul Rucker, Gregory Sale, Noelle Swan, Robert Yovanov

September 14 – December 6, 2019

Opening Reception: September 14 from 2–4 p.m.

Performance: Karla Diaz at 2:30 p.m.

Karla Diaz, Prison Gourmet, performanceKarla Diaz’s performance reflects her ongoing interest in social justice and the politics of food and is part of Diaz’s multimedia “Prison Gourmet” project, which features recipes created by people incarcerated in California using items found in the commissary.

The tragic facts of the history of incarceration in America are now widely recognized. That we imprison more people than anywhere else on the planet, for longer sentences, and in harsh conditions, is seen as a pressing problem across political aisles. Yet the trenchant issues of racial and economic injustice continue to plague a swollen system that ensnares millions of Americans. While incarcerated individuals are the most directly impacted, tendrils stretch into families and communities disproportionately impacted by violence and the criminal justice system. But the complexity of the system and efforts at reform are dwarfed by the cycle of trauma that inscribes and abets it. In the movement for prison reform, the expression “hurt people hurt people” has become a kind of mantra for a reason. Crime and its impacts are not individual issues but communal and familial ones, with deep roots in slavery, inequity, and domestic violence.

Where does art fit into all of this? How can the arts disrupt cycles of trauma and promote healing and connection, inspire education and social change? Within the strict confines and jagged social structure of the American prison system, art plays a particularly poignant and pressing role. It is often the only outlet an individual stripped of rights has to give voice to thoughts and ideas, memories and dreams. For contemporary artists beyond the walls, art can be a means to critique, dialogue, and imagine solutions to the intractable problems of the prison industrial complex.

Disruption! brings together artists directly impacted by the system with artists that address it in their work. The multimedia artist Paul Rucker’s immersive installation, Proliferation, 2005, demonstrates the social, geographical, political, and emotional impact of the growth of prisons in the United States from 1778 to 2005, making space for pause and reflection, while Peter Merts’ moving photographs of Arts in Corrections give voice to those trapped in the system and embody the power of the arts to cultivate joy, imagination, and freedom in the most restrictive environments. In a solitary cell, with nothing but the blue uniform on his back, Tony Ramirez uses precious morning coffee and a handmade brush to paint a series of portraits of his hero, President Barack Obama; also behind bars, Javier Quintero, innovates a painstakingly detailed drawing style to create photorealistic portraits of himself with his wife to mail to her.

Artists Gregory Sale and Karla Diaz each collaborate with system-impacted individuals and communities to create participatory performances and social practice works, respectively, that offer meaningful opportunities for connection, dialogue, and common ground. Photographer Noelle Swan explores the complex emotional layers of the impact of murder on her family and finds an unlikely avenue for healing in the restorative justice movement, where the incarcerated individuals that she meets connect deeply to her family tragedy. Stan Hunter similarly locates healing through art. Hunter taught himself to paint while incarcerated for 30 years. Recognizing the powerful impact art had on his own growth, Hunter began to teach others inside to paint. Now released, he is a Lead Teaching Artist with the Prison Arts Collective, taking the journey full circle.

Artist Bios

Karla Diaz is an artist, writer, educator, and activist born in Los Angeles and raised in both Mexico and L.A. Her multidisciplinary work questions institutional power, investigates language, explores cultural relationships, and provokes dialogue. She received her MFA from CalArts in 2004 and has published and exhibited her work in local, national, and international venues including MOCA, LACMA, MD2011 Medellin Colombia, Museo Cervantez in Spain, the Whitney in New York, the ICA in Boston, and the Serpentine Gallery in London. She is co-director and founding member of Slanguage Studio, an artist community space/collective, and has received several awards, notably a city of Los Angeles Arts Recognition Award and an Art Matters award for her “Prison Gourmet” project. She teaches at Cal State University Long Beach.

Stan Hunter is a practicing artist who taught himself to paint while incarcerated for over thirty years. Finding deep healing through art, he dedicated himself to sharing it with others and has supported numerous peers to find joy and meaning through art. He finds purpose in sharing his skills and artistic techniques with those who may be struggling to find their own purpose. Hunter is a founding member and lead teaching artist with the Prison Arts Collective.

Peter Merts has been a photographer for 40 years, specializing in fine art, documentary, and portrait styles. He has published, exhibited, and lectured in the US and abroad. For the past 12 years, Peter has documented California’s Arts in Corrections program—first as a volunteer, then under contract with the California Arts Council. He has photographed in all of California’s 36 adult state prisons and serves on the advisory board of the Prison Arts Collective. Peter co-published, with Dr. Larry Brewster, the book Paths of Discovery: Art Practice and Its Impact in California Prisons (now in its 2nd edition).

Javier Quintero is an artist that is currently incarcerated and serving four life sentences for crimes that he committed at age 15. He was sent to a maximum security prison at 17 and began to draw as a way to deal with a violent environment. Quintero explains that drawing “kept me sane” and, after many years behind bars, keeps him motivated and allows for enjoyment. In 2018, Quintero completed the Prison Arts Collective Facilitator Training. He often sends artwork to his wife, advocate Xochitl Quintero, who was instrumental in loaning pieces for this exhibition.

Tony Ramirez is an artist that is currently incarcerated in Ironwood State Prison. Ramirez paints, draws, and has been teaching others to do the same ever since he learned. He is well respected among his peers for his mentorship and innovation, evidenced in this exhibition by portraits made in coffee. Currently struggling with losing his eyesight, Ramirez is learning to play the guitar. Ramirez has also been a Peer Facilitator in the Prison Arts Collective since 2017.

Paul Rucker is a composer, musician, and visual artist who combines media, often integrating live performance, sound, video, animation, original compositions, storytelling, and visual art. His work is the product of a rich interactive process, through which he investigates community impacts, human rights issues, historical research, and basic human emotions surrounding particular subject matter. Much of his current work focuses on dismantling inequity in order to create positive change. Rucker has received numerous grants, awards, and residencies for visual art and music. Among many notable achievements are an award for Visual Art from the Creative Capital Foundation, the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, the first artist-in-residence at the National Museum of African American Culture, a residency at the Joan Mitchell Center, and a TED Fellow.

Artist Gregory Sale brings together a multitude of individuals implicated in and working with the criminal justice system. His projects organize frameworks of engagement for individuals directly affected by the system, connecting them with communities and encouraging reciprocal dialogue and mutual learning. His projects include It’s not just black and white (2011) at ASU Art Museum, and Future IDs at Alcatraz (2018-19) for the iconic prison turned National Park in San Francisco Bay. His work has received support from the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, Creative Capital, A Blade of Grass, and Andy Warhol Foundation. He teaches at Arizona State University.

Noelle Swan is a documentary and editorial photographer that uses still and video images in visual storytelling. Her work has been published and exhibited internationally. In 2010, Noelle was a Critical Mass finalist for Life After Death, a body of work documenting the tragic effects of her sister’s murder, and in 2011, she was nominated for the Santa Fe Prize in Photography. Noelle is a founding member of SIX SHOOTERS, a group of six female photographers, and is currently focused on personal photographic projects, writing and restorative justice.

Robert Yovanov is an artist that is currently incarcerated at the California Institution for Men in Chino. He became involved in the Community-based Art program, now the Prison Arts Collective, in 2013 and has been an active peer leader in the program ever since. He is a cartoonist and is learning to paint. He also teaches a popular Foundations in Art class with the Prison Arts Collective and continues to support the growing arts community at the institution.

About the Curator

Annie Buckley is a multidisciplinary artist, writer, and curator with an emphasis on art and social justice and, since July 2019, the Director of the School of Art + Design at San Diego State University. She has written extensively about art for leading publications in the field including Artforum, Art in America, The Huffington Post, and KCET Artbound and is a contributing editor to the Los Angeles Review of Books for which she writes the series, “Art Inside” about facilitating art programs in prisons. Annie is the founder of the Prison Arts Collective, a statewide program dedicated to expanding access to the transformative power of the arts through collaboration and mutual learning. She has received numerous grants and contracts to support this work, including from Arts in Corrections, an initiative of the California Arts Council and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, CDCR Innovative Grants, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Paul Rucker, Proliferation, 2009, Video/Audio/Animation, Dimensions 11:30 Projected on Large Monitor
Paul Rucker, Proliferation, 2009/2012, Video/audio/animation, Dimensions: 11:30 projected on large monitor

Special Event:

Murray Pepper and Vicki Reynolds Pepper Distinguished Visiting Artists & Scholars Lecture Series
Tuesday, December 3 at 4:15 p.m., Benson Auditorium, Pitzer College

Father Gregory Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles

Keynote Lecture by Father Gregory Boyle, SJ, founder of Homeboy Industries, the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world.

Gregory Boyle is the founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world.

A native Angeleno and Jesuit priest, from 1986 to 1992 Father Boyle served as pastor of Dolores Mission Church in Boyle Heights, then the poorest Catholic parish in Los Angeles that also had the highest concentration of gang activity in the city.

Father Boyle witnessed the devastating impact of gang violence on his community during the so-called “decade of death” that began in the late 1980s and peaked at 1,000 gang-related killings in 1992. In the face of law enforcement tactics and criminal justice policies of suppression and mass incarceration as the means to end gang violence, he and parish and community members adopted what was a radical approach at the time: treat gang members as human beings.

In 1988 they started what would eventually become Homeboy Industries, which employs and trains former gang members in a range of social enterprises, as well as provides critical services to thousands of men and women who walk through its doors every year seeking a better life.

Father Boyle is the author of the 2010 New York Times-bestseller Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion. His new book, Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship, was published in 2017.

He has received the California Peace Prize and been inducted into the California Hall of Fame. In 2014, the White House named Father Boyle a Champion of Change. He received the University of Notre Dame’s 2017 Laetare Medal, the oldest honor given to American Catholics.

Related Events

* Please note: All exhibition events will take place on the Pitzer campus and in correctional institutions. Events on campus are open to the public. Events in corrections are by invitation.*

Thursday, September 26, 1:20 – 4 p.m., Pitzer College
The Actor’s Gang Reentry Project: Open Workshop/Performance of Commedia dell’Arte
The Actor’s Gang at the California Institution for Women, Sept 21 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

The Actors’ Gang Prison Project. Photo by Peter Merts

The Actors’ Gang Reentry Project will host an open workshop/performance of Commedia dell’Arte co-facilitated by formerly incarcerated alumni. Participants will experience the highly physical and emotional style of improvised theater taught by The Actors’ Gang Prison Project for the last thirteen years throughout California’s state prisons.

October 24, 1:20 – 4 p.m., Pitzer College
The Strindberg Laboratory and Kukunori co-lead a workshop together with over 50 organizations and individuals creating a world without labels and walls
Strindberg and Kukunori at the California Institution for Women, Oct. 24, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.

No Labels, No Walls: Stindberg Laboratory and Kukunori, Finland

The Strindberg Laboratory joins with the Finnish group Kukunori and the international coalition, No Labels, No Walls, to conduct a theater art workshop to create flags for a world without labels and walls. The flags will represent the participants’ views on what it means to be free from stigma and in a world where equality is a reality. Join the movement!

November 21, 1:20 – 4:00 p.m., Pitzer College
Prison Arts Collective: Exhibition Walkthrough and Responsive Art Workshop
Prison Arts Collective at California Institution for Men, Nov. 8, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.

Prison Arts Collective team facilitating a community workshop.

The Prison Arts Collective will present a guided exhibition tour and responsive art workshop. Participants will gain insight into the meaning and experience of art in prison, engage in dialogue about the impact of art in the restorative justice movement, and create art and writing projects to reflect on the issues, narratives, and emotional responses to the exhibition.

This exhibition and related events are generously supported by the Justice Education Initiative at the Claremont Colleges, funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Murray Pepper and Vicki Reynolds Pepper Distinguished Visiting Artists and Scholars Endowed Fund; and Office of the Dean of Faculty at Pitzer College.

Links and Recommended Resources

Partners and Collaborators
Prison Arts Collective
Homeboy Industries
The Actors’ Gang Prison Project
Strindberg Laboratory: No Labels, No Walls

Criminal Justice in the United States
Fact Sheet, compiled by the NAACP
Criminal Justice Facts: The Sentencing Project
Criminal Justice Reform: Southern Poverty Law Center

“About Time 瞬息” 2019 Senior Thesis Art Exhibition

May 2-18, 2019

Opening Reception: May 2, 5-7 p.m.
Nichols Gallery/Broad Center Patio

Elodie Arbogast, Allean “Mykale” Bankhead, Gina Duran, Hazel Hutchins, Jessica Jia 贾子芹, Olivia Kohn, Krystal Li 李祎然, Tess Regan, and Eve Wang 王楚怡

Elodie Arbogast

The Red Hare, 2019 Graphic novel

Elodie Arbogast is a double major in History and Studio Art and is a passionate consumer and creator of films, illustration and comics. Arbogast’s work consists of digital illustration, comics, graphic novels, short animations and storyboards.

Growing up, Arbogast had a much easier time understanding her feelings and problems through the lens of characters than she did handling them on her own. Whether it be from a TV show, book, folk tale, or especially an animated movie, seeing a character go through a similar struggle to her own was one of the only ways she could be honest with herself about her feelings. As she grew older, and relied less on using characters to understand herself, she began creating characters that would encourage others to experience a similar catharsis. Therefore, her primary focus is creating impactful characters, and using those characters as an avenue for communicating honestly about the world, in a way that can be cathartic and impactful for herself and the viewer.

“The Red Hare,” Arbogast’s thesis project, is a short graphic novel about two young sisters who chase a mythical red hare from their grandmother’s stories into the woods by their home. The story deals with childhood feelings of disappointment and irrationality. Specifically, it deals with the feeling of desperately wanting a particular thing, and then being disappointed by getting something different, despite it being objectively better. The characters try and cope with having thoughts and feelings that do not make sense, even to themselves, and must rely on the people closest to them to treat them with kindness and forgiveness. Arbogast incorporated her specialty in U.S. cultural history by including figures from folklore throughout the book, who challenge the sisters in various ways. Folkloric stories are often tonally light, absurd and humorous, yet they convey a wealth of cultural information through their depictions of fear, struggle, victory, etc. They take the light with the dark, an essential part of the human experience. Balancing seriousness and fun is essential in Arbogast’s works, from illustration to comics and films.

Allean “Mykale” Bankhead

I’ll call you in the mourning, 2019 Oil on canvas

Initially trained in painting and drawing in the International Baccalaureate Program, followed by ceramics, welding, and woodworking at Pitzer College, Allean “Mykale” Bankhead incorporates multiple mediums to thematically explore the past. Whether the past of her own childhood artistic origins recreating cartoons and manga, the family traumas of her past, or the burden of experiencing racial prejudice in America; Bankhead uses her work as a way to better understand and process personal and social history. Manifest in ceramic plates with detailed floral paintings, t-shirts spray painted with intricate stencils, and even including traditional oil paintings of anime characters, her works primarily result in heterogenous forms that heavily incorporate and rely upon illustrative qualities.

In “Nothing Gold Can Stay,” Bankhead is exploring the intersection of the traditional (two-dimensional) art form of oil painting with more contemporary sculptural (three-dimensional) art form of plaster to cooperatively express and instill an emotional response in the audience. Incorporating the movement, time and multiple meanings of honey, these various mediums all come together to depict a large-scale family portrait. Whilst the figures in the painting are depicted in a fairly direct way that suggests a sense of melancholy or pensiveness, the sculptural aspects of the plaster and honey cooperatively offer inklings of loss and depletion. The emotional quality that these figures display propose questions regarding the truth and actual state of familial relationships. Furthermore this emotional quality addresses issues such as the societal pressures of maintaining familial relationships, regardless of the real state of these relationships.

Exploring this theme by depicting African Americans figures, Bankhead is inspired by contemporary artists who often work in portraiture such as Kara Walker, Kehinde Wiley, and Delfin Finley. Along with the thematic explorations of familial relationships, Bankhead also analyzes the intersection of not only African American familial relationships, but also the decades long and continuous effort to contextualize and establish black figures in art galleries and museums. With implications and complex intersections such as these Bankhead wishes to investigate and discuss bigger questions such as; to what extent are we expected to keep and maintain familial relationships?, what are we truly losing and gaining from keeping these relationship, and are the results worth it? and how does a black artist handle depicting black figures and more importantly black
narratives in a white gallery space?

Gina Duran

Gina Duran’s artwork takes a social and introspective view on the historical, emotional, and psychological issues of sexual violence––which her research at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign has brought her to describe as an assimilation response. Her work exemplifies the crucial topic of transitioning from victim to survivor by using her body as the main medium and subject of representation for the struggles of dissociation, self-harm, and suicidal ideations.

Influenced by Marina Abramović’s “Rhythm 0”, Duran uses her body in a bound performance to demonstrate the struggles of belonging as a queer Indigenous Chicanx, while standing on red-earth for a prolonged period of time–– symbolizing rising up and transformation in hopes of leaving behind the past. Duran will release herself from her binds, demonstrating her battle, and shed the rope on the red-earth platform (which will be used later to make bowls). The bowls will become gifts for people that helped Duran throughout the healing journey and act as a final goodbye to her uterus. The uterus is located in the second chakra and is where creation/ creativity comes from. Since Duran is a mother of two, she chose to demonstrate her removed dysfunctional vessel through functional vessels that hold nourishment. Duran uses installation to bring the audience into her anamnesis as she sheds her past to move into her future by utilizing mixed mediums, such as; poetry from her research, inspired by Gloria Anzaldua’s “Borderlands” and Andrea Smith’s “Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide”––which informs the porcelain and latex castings of her body––and the painted backdrop of her daydreams with sounds of the wind. The porcelain casting of her body is scarred with poetry about childhood trauma, then marked around the abdomen to display the significance of sexual violence and the loss of her uterus. The final shedding is a latex casting of her body––exploring existence in the present by showing the wounded skin––laid before its body’s dreams with the aurora borealis spray painted onto a backdrop.

Sexual violence attributes to the highest percentages of extreme assimilation responses, such as: suicide, self-harm, and addiction amongst intersectional populations within stigmatized communities like LGBTQ2 (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Two-Spirit) individuals. After working with LGBTQ2 homeless youth, receiving training as a Community Health Worker, losing her cousin to suicide, and attempting suicide, in 2005––she became aware of the correlation between sexual violence and suicide. Gina’s research led her to find that Native American women had the highest rate of suicide, as well as experience the highest rate of sexual violence. LGBTQ individuals are the second highest victims of sexual violence and suicide. Although Latinx and Chicanx individuals do experience sexual violence, they are often ‘othered’ in ways which do not recognize them as a race, increasing the experience of cultural shame and silence. It was because of this silence that she worked with Queer Latinx female identified survivors to write auto-ethnographic research in the form of poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.

Hazel Hutchins

Still / Moving, 2019 Video

Hazel Hutchins is a visual artist raised in North Salem, NY and New York City. Having been raised in both a dense city and a greener suburban landscape, she maintains a dual perspective that informs her artistic practice of exploration, concern with natural/built environments and the communities that inhabit them. Hutchins primarily works in photography and with found objects and has expanded her practice during college to incorporate sculpture and performance.

Hutchins’ thesis is a culmination of her time spent interacting with a local site in Upland, CA. Located just off of Foothill Boulevard (Historic Route 66) the expansive site holds debris, wild plants, and three family-owned companies, Holliday Rock Inc., Hub Cap Annie & Wheel, and Cable Airport. Hutchins’ gallery installation features video of her improvisational performances and interactions with the land, as well as, assemblages and sculptures comprised of found objects she collected from the site.

Situated within the frameworks of the Land Art movement, Hutchins’ utilizes features of the landscape as an artistic medium and makes work as a point of access to reflect and mobilize around a multitude of environmental concerns. Hutchins acknowledges that her artwork takes place on Indigenous land and expresses gratitude toward the local Tongva Tribe for hosting her. Her objective is to develop a creative relationship with the land throughout the duration of her thesis project.

Jessica Jia 贾子芹

The Blue Opium, 2019 Oil on canvas

Ziqin “Jessica” Jia was born in China and moved to the United States when she was just 14 in order to attend school. She came to the United States alone and this forms the basis for the content for her artwork. She is very specific about what she uses to create her artwork and consistently employs similar materials and processes, although she is always open to exploring new ones. Jia typically uses oil paint, watercolor and/or pencil. She employs different methods to create small paintings versus larger paintings. For small paintings she likes to have a sketch then use tracing paper to transfer the image to another paper; whereas with large paintings she likes to draw a small sketch then use the projector to transfer the image onto the canvas or paper.

The title of Jia’s artwork for the 2019 Senior Thesis Exhibition is “The Blue Opium”. Her challenging experience growing up and studying away from her family has fostered her creative spirit and then became the basis of her artwork. In this artwork she wanted to express herself by showing the experiences she has been through and how they have affected her outlook on the larger world. As an international student from China, coming to the US was very lonely and this resulted in her being homesick. Jia has made a second home in the ocean, spending her free time deep sea diving. Diving has helped her to overcome these personal feelings of isolation and she wanted this to be the basis of her artwork. Being underwater is also a lonely place to put oneself because you cannot easily communicate with others and you are surrounding by large expanses of emptiness there. She was nervous the first time she dove but after a few times, she got used to the ocean and now is very comfortable with it. She liked how she dealt with her loneliness and in the process she learned how to be with herself.

Jia suffers from depression, which has led her to be anti-social. She struggles with being social and talking to and socializing with others is taxing for her. Being underwater is her comfort zone. She feels relaxed and released when she is diving. “The Blue Opium” gives an insight into her world by referring to the ocean as a sanctuary. In order to create this artwork Jia collaged photos that she took along with photos her friends took of her to make an image that combined different facets of her experiences. All of the photos were taken in Palau. She then used a projector to transfer the collaged image onto the 42’’ x 45’’ canvas. She was inspired by the artists Jessica McCoy and Allison Brown. McCoy and Brown are both known for their paintings and public art projects. McCoy’s work is also based on collaged photos which she paints with watercolor. Brown has done many mural paintings where she uses a dry brush technique to blend colors.

Olivia Kohn

known, or experienced/Passed/put a name to, place, 2019 Silver gelatin print

Olivia Kohn grew up in Los Angeles and has been largely influenced by her father’s work in the art world and her early exposure to contemporary art. Primarily working with analog photography, darkroom practice
continues to be her main vehicle for production, using both alternative and historical methods of darkroom printing. She uses the camera as a means of understanding her environment and documenting her domestic spaces.

In Poppy, a series of images capturing her grandparent’s home, Kohn uses black and white analogue photography to encapsulate how her grandfather’s dementia has affected the space he inhabits. She is investigating the presence of objects which represent time, and the conversation between familial subject and object. Marianne Hirsch speaks to this notion in her book Family Frames; “The familial look, then, is not the look of a subject looking at an object, but a mutual look of a subject looking at an object who is a subject looking (back) at an object.” Documenting objects which represent her grandfather’s illness juxtaposed next to objects in the house which represent the past, Kohn’s photographs switch between her grandfather’s gaze and her own. These gazes meet in her photographs, through displaying photographs which are representative of how she believes he sees the house, while others display the disarray and state the house is in, the house that Kohn sees. Kohn uncovers memories within the home and captures the absence and discomfort that has become of the space.

The psychology of the body and trauma is a running theme throughout her work, drawing from forms of surrealism and feminist portraiture to create a series that speaks to how one is able to process emotion and memory. Kohn is looking at the ways in which the house or home and the body are inherently linked, as her grandfather’s house deteriorates parallel to her grandfather. Repetitive images that appear throughout her body
of work allude to her fascination with process and the unconscious. In looking at artists who utilize family snapshots as markers of memory and familial history, such as Lorie Novak and Sophie Calle, her work speaks to
similar themes while also expanding this concept to the family home as descriptive of family life.

Krystal Li 李祎然

The Untitled, 2019. Sound Installation

Krystal Li is a conceptual artist. Using multi-media such as video, sound and photography Li explores topics such as autobiography, identity and longing. As an international student from China, her culture, memories and present life in the United States have inspired her to make art.

Captured from Li’s everyday life and surroundings, the sound installation The Untitled is inspired by Li’s interest in “everyday aesthetics”. “Everyday aesthetics” is a contemporary philosophical position that focusing on everyday life, the environment, people and daily activities. The Untitled contains multiple different sounds from Li’s daily routine including at school and her social life with friends. To Li, these sounds are the most frequent and familiar sounds surrounding her, yet something that normally goes by unappreciated. Li intentionally designed a private dark room in the gallery for viewers to have their own private space and time to process her work. This is particularly important because the privacy of the space allows the listener to process her work without distraction and relate the sounds to their own everyday experience. By utilizing sound, Li aims at surrounding her viewers through this particular medium and encouraging an open interpretation of the work.

A minimal aesthetic approach is essential to Li’s work. She has been influenced by artists such as Marcel Duchamp, Ai Weiwei and Ugo Rondinone. Li reduces the work to only that which is essential in order that the central message she wants to convey to viewers is foremost. This encourages the listener to blend into the environment and process the artistic message.

Tess Regan

Smilehood, 2019 Lenticular prints

Born and raised in the Northeast, with a detour of a few years living abroad, Tess Regan’s outdoorsy and adventurous upbringing is reflected in her artwork which focuses on both the natural world and human connection. For her senior thesis project, “Smilehood,” Regan wanted to create an upbeat project that would highlight a natural, instinctual response of glee or giddiness from the audience within the gallery space. So, she began researching smiles and laughter. What began as an intended project of happiness and joy progressed into a more complicated anthropological study of human sociability.

Through her research, Regan drew on information from Robert Provine  Paul Ekman and Anca Parvulescu as well as inspiration from Bas Jan Ader’s I’m Too Sad to Tell You and Barbara Krugers’ Have Me Feed Me Love Me Need Me. Her findings suggest that the story of smiles is an ever-evolving one, overlapping with drastic shifts in Western culture. For instance, smiling’s emergence in photography at the end of the nineteenth century overlapped, by no coincidence with the advancement of the advertising industry promoting signature smiles and social capital as toothy happiness. However, based on the findings of Provine and Eckman, smiling is not unique to happiness, but rather a response to social interactions. Therefore, Regan wanted to create an honest art project that would portray a wider array of emotions within the smile. This turn of the century also shifted women’s relation with smiling. Smiling which was once discouraged “lest it produce precocious wrinkles” transformed into encouragement to smile more for the sake of acquiescent femininity.

For her project, “Smilehood,” in About Time, Pitzer’s senior thesis exhibition, Regan presents a series of lenticular prints, images with an illusion of depth and the ability to shift between distinct images, depending on the viewing angle. The series consists of four lenticular prints, each composed from two different photographs of smiles. The eight images were selected from an extensive archive of smile photographs taken over months. Out of context, a collection of smiles may appear macabre; however, contextualization of the intent to represent social, human connection will hopefully elevate the response to one of blithe recognition. Through
her research she has focused on the social reasons for smiling and laughing and the situational contexts in which they are found. In short, the anthropological research has boiled down to smiles existing as an instinctual response to social cues, not exclusive to happiness, but universal to human behavior.

Eve Wang 王楚怡

Freeze me when I die, 2019 Mixed media

Eve Wang is a visual artist and a performer. She grew up in Beijing, China and moved to the United State four years ago for college. Being away from home, she has spent a great deal of time contemplating the theme of “home”. She believes in the idea of an artist’s emblematic role as DJ (Baudrillard). Influenced by her experience of moving between two places, she “samples” elements from her past in China and her present in Claremont creating images and videos that manifest a third space. Her work is a bricolage drawn from her past experience, historical references, memory, and even mass-produced goods from China such as the electronic products one finds in the market of Huaqiangbei. Removing all of these objects from their original context, she questions how the body navigates a post-modern, post-colonial condition through technology.

Wang’s thesis is an installation and video. She uses sculpture because the physicality of things is the most striking in a three-dimensional gallery space. Her installation is made up of objects from local thrift stores and online shops. The installation itself is a flower garden of (fake) plants and water pond without water. Water plays a central role as the creator of life in many cultures. In Chinese mythology, the deceased passes through the lethe river to be reincarnated. In this piece each object also has its own organic life, by going through the different production and consumption methods. They reflect what is happening around us. By employing these objects, she hopes to raise the questions about identity and collective history. China is always mythically portrayed as threatening to overrule western domination of technological development, and at the same time “made in China” is stereotyped as cheap and tacky. By putting them in an enigmatic and cohesive form, she suggests an imagery that does not exist in the present yet. Taking advantage of the pond’s double meaning, the whole art piece is a contested ground for the idea of a new, more robust form of life to which the digital explosion of technology is giving way. The project title, Freeze me when I die, reflects the contemplation on human life in the age of rapid technological development and the meaning of death in the age of cryogenic preservation, and asks the question of how ancient myths such as Buddhist reincarnation will manifest themselves.

Wang’s project is informed by theories developed in texts such as Hal Foster’s The Archival Impulse and Nicholas Baudrillard’s Post-production. Artists such as British painter Vivienne Zhang with her juxtaposed use of the internet glitch and the African rug, and Mika Rottenberg’s sculptural and video installation work, which reflect her contemplation of human labor also inspired Wang’s work.

Curatorial Internship Project #3: Julie Heine ’21: Intertext / By the Book

Opening Reception:
Thursday, May 2, 5 p.m.
Nichols Gallery, Broad Center

Inspired by the previous exhibition at Pitzer College Art Galleries, Publishing Against the Grain, Intertext / By the Book also takes the form of a reading room. The room features works that can be defined as either hypotext or hypertext–either “inspiration for” or “inspired by”. In an attempt to expand the framework of intertextuality, Intertext / By the Book applies this literary tool to art. This fosters a historically-informed comparative analysis of artistic and literary processes.

Julie is a sophomore at Pitzer College majoring in art history.

Catalogue – Elana Mann: Instruments of Accountability

September 29 – December 8, 2018
Organized by Ciara Ennis
Pitzer College Art Galleries
48 pages, with color reproductions, 13” x 8 1/2”
ISBN: 978-0-9966445-6-3
Essays by Gregory Sholette and Olga Kopenkina
Interview by Ciara Ennis

Scores by AJ Layague, Dana Reason, Sharon Chohi Kim and Micaela Tobin, Douglas Kearney, Max King Cap and Ciara Ennis, Pauline Oliveros
Edited by Ciara Ennis, Cheukwa Jones, Elana Mann, Susan Warmbrunn
Catalogue design by Colleen Corcoran, Place and Page
Photography by Ruben Diaz, Jean-Paul Leonard, Michael Underwood

Catalogue – MANIFESTO: A Moderate Proposal

January 20 – March 29, 2018
Curated by Ciara Ennis and Jennifer Vanderpool
Pitzer College Art Galleries
44 pages, with one-color reproductions, 10 5/16” x 8”
ISBN: 978-0-9966445-5-6
Essays by Gregory Sholette
Edited by Mary Bartlett, Ciara Ennis, Cheukwa Jones, Susan Warmbrunn
Catalogue design by Summer Office (Tanya Rubbak and Michelle Lamb)
Photography by Ruben Diaz

Catalogue – Edgar Heap of Birds: Defend Sacred Mountains

January 20 – March 29, 2018
Curated by Bill Anthes and Ciara Ennis
Pitzer College Art Galleries
66 pages, with color reproductions, 10 7/8” x 7 1/4”
ISBN: 978-0-9966445-4-9
Essays by Bill Anthes and Charlotte Jones
Interview by Ciara Ennis
Edited by Mary Bartlett
Catalogue design by Terry Vuong
Photography by Ruben Diaz
Art Design Coordination by Cheukwa Jones

Emerging Artist Series #14: Cathy Akers

Pitzer College Art Galleries, February 2 – March 28, 2019

Opening Reception:
Saturday, February 2, 2-4 p.m.

Cathy Akers:
A Utopia for Some: Morningstar and Wheeler’s Ranches Reconsidered

Expectant (2018), Porcelain, photocopy transfer, underglaze and glaze, 14.25″H x 13″W x 14″D

The result of more than ten years of research, Cathy Akers’ installation A Utopia for Some: Morningstar and Wheeler’s Ranches Reconsidered explores two northern Californian experimental communes that closed in 1973. Examining the impulse for communal living outside conventional contexts, the exhibition focuses on utopian aspects of these intentional communities as well as their potential for dysfunction.

Included in the exhibition are a number of exploded ceramic vase-like forms, which combine photographic fragments from the communes’ archives with text that has been inscribed onto the surface of the objects. Extracted from stories narrated by the women themselves, the text articulates different aspects of communal living—surviving off the land, drug experimentation, sexual violence, and utopian idealism. Marginalized as a result of their decision to live outside conventional parameters, these women’s lives have often been overlooked and forgotten. A Utopia for Some: Morningstar and Wheeler’s Ranches Reconsidered gives voice to their experiences and value to their existence.


Related Event:

Panel Discussion: Countercultural Positions, Motherhood, and Reclaiming Craft as a Feminist Practice

with Cathy Akers, Micol Hebron, Claudia Parducci, Astri Swendsrud, and Jemima Wyman

This panel will consider the current resurgence of ceramics in contemporary art making with a particular emphasis on its use by women artists as a means to reclaim the traditionally gendered practice of craft. The panelists will also investigate the role of women as producers of counterculture in relation to Cathy Akers’ exhibition, Utopia for Some: Morningstar and Wheelers Ranches Reconsidered.

Wednesday, March 27 at 1:30 p.m.
Broad Performance Space, Pitzer College

About the panelists:

Cathy Akers works with photography, ceramics and installation. Her work has been exhibited in solo or two-person shows at Pitzer College Art Galleries, Honor Fraser Gallery, and Emma Gray Headquarters in Los Angeles. She has had group shows in Israel, Germany, the U.K., Poland, and the Czech Republic. Akers has a MFA from CalArts.

Micol Hebron is an interdisciplinary feminist artist whose practice includes studio work, curating, writing, social media, crowd-sourcing, teaching, public-speaking, and both individual and collaborative projects. She grew up in a tent with hippie parents in the redwoods of Northern California. Hebron is an Associate Professor of Art at Chapman University.

LA-based artist Claudia Parducci’s work concerns the cycles of human conflict and strategies for survival, and spans a multi-disciplinary practice that includes drawing, painting, and sculpture. Since receiving her MFA from CalArts in 2006, Parducci’s work has been shown nationally and internationally. Her next solo exhibition will take place in March 2019 at Ochi Projects, Los Angeles.

Astri Swendsrud is a Los Angeles-based artist. Much of her recent work is part of the collaborative project Semi-Tropic Spiritualists, through which she creates interactive, multi-disciplinary works exploring the histories and influences of utopian and visionary communities in California. She is also co-founder and co-director of the artist-run space Elephant and works as Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Art at Biola University.

Jemima Wyman makes work that investigates visual resistance as a social, formal, and political strategy. Her recent solo exhibitions were held at Commonwealth & Council, Sullivan and Strumpf, and Milani Gallery. Wyman’s work has been exhibited internationally in Korea, Germany, Japan, England, and The Netherlands. She has collaborated with Anna Mayer as CamLab since 2005.

This event is free and open to the public.

Publishing Against the Grain

Pages, Issue Nine cover image, 2013. Courtesy of Pages and Independent Curators International (ICI).
Pages, Issue Nine cover image, 2013. Courtesy of Pages and Independent Curators International (ICI).
PISEAGRAMA, Issue Seven cover image, 2015. Courtesy of PISEAGRAMA and Independent Curators International (ICI).
PISEAGRAMA, Issue Seven cover image, 2015. Courtesy of PISEAGRAMA and Independent Curators International (ICI). [clear]
SCROLL: Project on Paper, cover image, 2017. Courtesy of SCROLL and Independent Curators International (ICI).
SCROLL: Project on Paper, cover image, 2017. Courtesy of SCROLL and Independent Curators International (ICI).


Pitzer College Art Galleries, February 2 – March 28, 2019

Opening Reception and X-TRA Forum #5: One Text Two Minutes:
Saturday, February 2, 2-4 p.m.

Organized by the Independent Curators International (ICI), Publishing Against the Grain provides a space for reading, thinking, and conversing, where slowing down can become a form of intellectual resistance. It encourages discursive public participation, self-reflective investigation, and invites visitors to discover new perspectives while connecting differing and analogous spheres of contemporary art. In the context of today’s corporatization and commodification of cultural institutions, and in many political situations where free speech becomes ever more precarious, independent publishing has shown extraordinary vitality and importance as a platform for disseminating alternative, progressive and autonomous positions.

Publishing Against the Grain highlights the current state of publishing and art criticism as it exists in small journals, experimental publications, websites, and radio, as well as other innovative forms. It is organized around projects that connect theoretical, social, political, and aesthetic questions with a focus on community, whether understood in relation to a particular place, or defined in identitarian or diasporic terms. Included in the exhibition are print journals like Makhzin (Lebanon) and Pisegrama (Brazil), alongside more experimental forms like tranzit’s interactive Curatorial Dictionary (Hungary). In bringing these projects together from around the world, Publishing Against the Grain reveals how their material and discursive activities respond to intersecting subjects such as contemporary aesthetics, diaspora, sex and gender, gentrification, race, language, and art history.

Publishing Against the Grain is an exhibition organized and produced by Independent Curators International (ICI), New York, and initiated by Alaina Claire Feldman and Becky Nahom, with Sanna Almajedi. The exhibition was made possible with the generous support from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, ICI’s Board of Trustees and International Forum.

Key contributors to Publishing Against the Grain include:

Art Against Art (Germany)
Bisagra (Peru)
Chimurenga (The Chronic / The Pan African Space Station) (South Africa)
Curatorial Dictionary (Hungary)
East of Borneo (United States)
Exhausted Geographies (Pakistan)
Fillip (Canada)
Glänta (Sweden)
Makhzin (Lebanon)
Our Literal Speed (United States)
Pages (The Netherlands / Iran)
Raking Leaves (Sri Lanka)
SALT. (United Kingdom)
Start Journal (Uganda)
Stationary (Hong Kong)
Tráfico Visual (Venezuela)
White Fungus (Taiwan)
X-TRA Contemporary Art Quarterly (United States)
Antena Aire (United States)
LibroMobile (Unites States)
Mochi-la (Mexico and United States)
BOOKSHELVES (United States)


Related Event:

X-TRA Forum #5: One Text Two Minutes
with Cathy Akers, Stacey Allan, Brent Armendinger, Leslie Dick, Micol Hebron, Nick Herman, Christopher James, Olga Koumoundouros, Jeff Khonsary, Thomas Lawson, Hailey Loman, Ming-Yuen S. Ma, Rachel Mayeri, Susan Silton, Aziz Sohail, and Carlin Wing

Join us for this program of 2-minute readings by sixteen artists who will share an article chosen from the exhibition. Participants might read directly from the journal or share an anecdote. Presentations are likely to be somewhat spontaneous, un-rehearsed and conversational. Publishing Against the Grain includes X-TRA’s complete archive.


Emerging Artist Series #13: Cassie Riger

Cassie Riger: Automatic Vaudeville

Curated by Ciara Ennis

September 29 – December 8, 2018
Lenzner Family Art Gallery, Atherton Hall

Opening Reception: Saturday, September 29, 2 – 4 p.m.
Nichols Gallery, Broad Center

Inspired by groundbreaking scholarship of Miriam Hansen and Tom Gunning that focused on early cinema and pre-Hollywood viewing habits, Cassie Riger’s work recreates proto-cinematic devices that explore spectacle and desire.

Unlike contemporary cinema, film in the late 19th century was encountered in the chaotic context of a funfair or arcade, accessible to all and connected to the flux of everyday. Many early motion-picture devices, such as the Praxinoscope or Zoetrope, were viewer-activated, allowing the user some control of the image. Creating her own renditions of such devices, alongside sculptural, sonic and projected elements, Riger engages scale distortion, color filters and extremes of light and dark to underline the theatrical artifice of film. As Riger has remarked, her work aims to “foster a consideration of cinema as a social medium—with an eye toward viewers rather than auteurs.”

Riger’s immersive installations enable viewers to engage in the playful and accessible experience of early film, appreciate the medium’s sly trickery, and indulge in its magical qualities. This participatory aspect of viewing empowers the audience and sets it apart from its contemporary counterpart.

Artist Bio: Cassie Riger
Los Angeles artist Cassie Riger’s works use installation, kinetic sculpture, performance, and photography to investigate the history of moving images and the interplay between mass media and its audience. Her exhibition of light-based art, Prisms, won the 2018 Curator’s Lab award from Friends of Contemporary Art. She recently completed an NES Residency in Iceland and had projects at the Queer Biennial in Los Angeles and Plan B International Art Festival. 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. Riger has also published writing on photography, film and video in Camerawork: A Journal of Photographic Arts, ArtWeek, Art Ltd., and other publications.  She earned an MA from the University of Chicago and an MFA from UC Irvine.

Related Event:

Artist Talk with Cassie Riger
Thursday, October 4 at 2 p.m.
Lenzner Family Art Gallery

This exhibition is supported in part by the California Arts Council, a state agency, and the National Arts and Disability Center at the University of California Los Angeles.

News (orange) (detail view) (2018); 114” x 150” x 124” (variable to site); Motor, paper, metal, plexiglass, slide projector with 80 handmade slides

Elana Mann: Instruments of Accountability

Curated by Ciara Ennis

September 29 – December 8, 2018
Nichols Gallery, Broad Center

Opening Reception: Saturday, September 29, 2–4 p.m.

When creating his Wunderkammer—a hall of amazing artifacts—Renaissance scholar Athanasius Kircher invented the megaphone in order to enhance the voices of those responding to his unbelievable relics. In her new exhibition, Instruments of Accountability, Elana Mann traces the relationship of early listening devices, like those fabricated by Kircher, to modern-day protest movements in order to amplify public dissent. Scheduled to coincide with the upcoming 2018 midterm elections, Mann’s exhibition will address our current moment of political reckoning, both materially and metaphorically.

Comprising sculptural instruments, musical scores and a 1960s hand-crafted mega-kazoo-horn—on loan from the Folk Music Center in Claremont—Instruments of Accountability is the largest solo exhibition of Mann’s artwork to date and is the culmination of a year-long residency with Pitzer College’s ceramics program. Mann’s artworks blend sculpture and performance, blur the line between meditative objects and political engagement, and bring a greater consciousness to the listening and speaking we practice in everyday life.

Mann’s instruments suffuse the human figure with acoustic properties. Her blame-game rattles and me-and-you-kazoos function both as highly crafted objects and utilitarian devices, accessible for audiences to play and handle in art as well as activist settings. In addition to the sculptural components Mann has invited composers, artists, and poets to produce scores for the exhibition, which will be performed throughout the show. The Japanese-Korean feminist art collective Tomorrow Girls Troop (TGT) also collaborated with Mann on posters that call attention to the erosion of women’s and LGBTQI rights in the current political administrations in the USA and Japan. Audiences can respond to these collaborative posters by calling 323 Projects, a telephone line as an exhibition site initiated by Tucker Neel, and leave messages answering the question: “What if women were in charge?” The audiences’ responses will be broadcast periodically from Pitzer’s clock tower throughout the duration of the exhibition.

Artist Bio: Elana Mann
Elana Mann has presented her work in museums, galleries, city parks and buses in the U.S. and abroad, including Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Otis College of Art and Design, The Hirshhorn Museum in Washington D.C., the Getty Villa and REDCAT in Los Angeles and the Luxun Academy of Fine Arts in Shenyang, China. Mann is also the recipient of grants from the California Community Foundation, the Center for Cultural Innovation, the Rema Hort Mann Foundation, and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. She graduated from the California Institute of the Arts in 2007 and lives and works in Los Angeles.

Mann was the inaugural artist-in-residence in 2017-18 in Pitzer College’s ceramics program.

Opening Reception Performances: Sharon Chohi Kim and Micaela Tobin, AJ Layague, Dana Reason
Saturday, September 29, 2–4 p.m.

The opening reception will feature three performances that will incorporate Elana Mann’s sculpture-instruments from the exhibition. These works will explore the intersection of art, music and activism to address issues of domestic violence, audience participation and empowerment.

Sharon Chohi Kim and Micaela Tobin: Unseal/Unseam
An experimental, multimedia opera that re-frames the story of Bluebeard’s Castle from the perspective of his abused wife, Judith.

AJ Layague: Signs Revisited
A three-movement work exploring the translation from the visible to the acoustic, from the object to its representation, and from the watcher to the listener.

Dana Reason: Modes of Persuasion: Hand, Hand, Fingers, Mouth
A series of studies for emergent method sound & object practitioners using instructional and graphic scores to be performed by non-art professionals.

Related Events

Election Day Parade: Grand Buddha Marching Band
Tuesday, November 6, 2:30–4 p.m.
Mudd Quadrangle, Claremont Graduate University

On Election Day, Mann will stage a performance of Pauline Oliveros’ Grand Buddha Marching Band in collaboration with art students from Pitzer and Claremont Graduate University (CGU). Performers will convene on Mudd Quadrangle, adjacent to CGU’s Art Department. This event is co-produced by Pitzer College Art Galleries, CGU, and Fulcrum Arts, Pasadena.

Lecture by Tomorrow Girls Troop (TGT)
Saturday, December 8, 1:30–2:30 p.m.
Broad Performance Space, Broad Center

Self-described as a “worldwide fourth-wave feminist art collective,” Tomorrow Girls Troop (TGT) was established in 2015 and comprises 50 artists and activists from around the world. Focusing on gender equality issues, TGT strives to create a positive world for all sexualities and genders in East Asia through art, social action, education, and pop culture.

Presented in collaboration with The Claremont Colleges’ Intercollegiate Department of Asian American Studies.

Songbook Launch
Elana Mann: Instruments of Accountability
Saturday, December 8, 2:30–4 p.m.
Broad Performance Space, Broad Center

In conjunction with the exhibition, Pitzer College Art Galleries will publish a songbook of scores/compositions/chants/songs specifically created for Elana Mann’s sculptural instruments. The publication will include compositions by Pauline Oliveros, Dana Reason, Sharon Chohi Kim and Micaela Tobin, and Douglas Kearney, among others. The songbook will include a jointly written essay by artist, activist and scholar Gregory Sholette and curator and critic Olga Kopenkina. An interview with Elana Mann by Pitzer College Art Galleries’ Director and Curator Ciara Ennis will also be included. The songbook will be designed by Colleen Corcoran, a designer who focuses on projects that examine the use of design as a tool for education and positive change. The form and design of the songbook will draw from the aesthetics of zines, street newspapers and Athanasius Kircher’s many publications.

The exhibition and programming are generously supported in part by the Pasadena Art Alliance and the Frederick J. Salathé Fund for Music and the Cultural Arts/Campus Life Committee, Pitzer College.