Spring 2020

  • Curatorial Intern Project #4: Jessica Sass ’22: Radical Learning Beyond Incarceration

    Virtual Exhibition: Radical Learning Beyond Incarceration

    Radical Learning Beyond Incarceration explores how art uses the power of creativity to shape opinion and provide incarcerated people a medium of healing.  This is true for the subject of incarceration, as it is for any other issue. New platforms such as art help to elevate the discussion surrounding incarceration, erase the stigma, and break the cycle of hegemonic stereotypes. Radical Learning Beyond Incarceration follows the journey of one man in the system who utilized artistic expression to confront his trauma and understand his own accountability. The exhibition is a story about the process of healing. The artworks showcased communicate ideas that extend far beyond the canvas. These artworks are rooted in this ongoing journey and express hope for unification of society, for the perpetrator and for the victim.

    Stan Hunter, the artist showcased in Radical Learning Beyond Incarceration, shares a deep passion for art as a rehabilitation tool. He says, “a paintbrush changed the trajectory of my life.” Stan was released from his 30-year sentence in January 2019, however, his artistry and community was built long before his release. Stan was introduced to “the power of a paintbrush.” Yet, he found his calling with his paintbrush in hand being able to paint the trajectory of his life after prison. Initially, art was a selfish pursuit he said, to find solace and a way to connect with his family while he was incarcerated. He soon realized the importance of sharing “the power” among other inmates and collectively, transforming prison walls.

    The works in Radical Learning Beyond Incarceration are realistic portraits of animals that were made for his children. While each work was created with the intention of connecting to his children, the work became much more meaningful. Breaking down the hierarchies in nature of man being above all lends itself to the idea of healing. Our society creates boundaries, enforcing a clear separation and hierarchy. In Stan’s eyes, we must break down those boundaries in order to authentically experience healing and equity. 

    Radical Learning Beyond Incarceration is curated by Jessica Sass, a second year student at Pitzer College majoring in Media Studies and Political Studies. Her curatorial lens channels Stan Hunter’s complex world view and his belief in art as a tool for rehabilitation and self-healing. These ideas are reflected in the captions for each animal portrait, which are Sass’ interpretation of his work and her understanding of his journey. The works are painted in a hyper-realist style and are universally accessible.

    Friday, May 8,  2020, 10:45 a.m., PST
    Programming for Radical Learning Beyond Incarceration includes a virtual artist talk with Stan Hunter, followed be a brief Q & A. We hope that you will join us on Zoom for this event.

    To view the virtual exhibition in slide show format, with Jessica Sass’ accompanying text, click on any of the images below.

    The 2020 Curatorial Internship Project #4 by Jessica Sass ’22 is the fourth chapter in the ongoing series of art exhibitions realized through the Curatorial Apprenticeship course created and taught by Ciara Ennis, PhD., Pitzer College Art Galleries Director and Pitzer College Head of Curatorial Affairs.


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  • No Single Sources 2020 Senior Thesis Virtual Art Exhibition

    May 7-29, 2020

    2020 Senior Thesis Virtual Art Exhibition

    Nicholas Endicott, Cassie (Yizhen) Li, Izzy Manson, Grace Russell, Eliza Schmidt, Sophia Silane, Kieran Silva, Eve Sperling, Ingrid Topp-Johnson, and Nancy Xing, and Solánas Yaya

    Nick Endicott

    Nick Endicott is an artist by nature. His work is always changing. In the past four years, it has included animation, fashion, digital collage, video, drag, content creation for social media, oil painting, vocal performance, photography, scenic design, sculpture, event planning, and long-form comedy improvisation. In his senior thesis project, he is at last breaking into the world of e-commerce.

    Nick Endicott, Coat (in progress), 2020, coat and hanger, dimensions variable

    Cassie (Yizhen) Li

    In her thesis project, Cassie (Yizhen) Li explores various emotions in this chaotic time through a series of non-narrative animated videos in relation to reality and augmented reality. In a reflection of the impact of technology on our daily lives and the conception of “home”, she focuses on the dramatic perspectives that address the different states of mind in relation to nature, the universe, and the internet.

    Cassie (Yizhen) Li, To the X we will never get, 2020, digital video

    Izzy Manson

    Izzy Manson’s Senior Thesis project grew out of the artist’s personal experience of riding horses, which she did daily for all of her childhood and young adulthood. horses cannot see red explores themes of care, fear, freedom and control all of which are inherent aspects of equestrianism.

    Izzy Manson, Two girls watching the filly be born, 2020, archival pigment print, 16 x 20 inches

    Grace Russell

    Drawing inspiration from artists such as Salvador Dali and Robert Yarber, Grace Russell’s work engages in a play between the real and the imagined. Informed by Surrealism, as well as strains of contemporary painting that employ unnatural color schemes, disorienting subject matter, and cartoonish elements, her two dimensional works present critiques of society, politics, and philosophy.

    Grace Russell, Looking Forward, 2020, acrylic on four plywood panels, 48 x 60 inches

    Eliza Schmidt

    Eliza Schmidt is a Brooklyn born, LA-based artist interested in the confluence of art, craft, life, and sustainable design. Focusing on materiality, domestic histories, and archival practices, her work addresses global themes of climate change, utopia, belonging, and gender. Schmidt has an innate desire to listen and to tell stories, experimenting with a myriad of mediums to support the message.

    Eliza Schmidt with Barbara Drake, I see the women so very very strong, 2020, digital book (detail, selected pages). Design and panoramic photographs by Eliza Schmidt

    Sophia Silane

    Sophia Silane’s Senior Thesis project addresses themes of permanence, control, and lack thereof in one’s home through disorienting ink drawings comprising a stop motion video. In an attempt to preserve memories, these drawings depict suburban plants and architecture, familiar and fragile visions that remain in a constant state of demolition and transformation.

    Sophia Silane, Lakefront, 2020, series of 81 images (detail), ink on newsprint, stop motion

    Kieran Silva

    Kieran Silva’s thesis project comprises a video documenting the artist’s performance, completed in the spring of 2020 amid the COVID-19 quarantine. In the video, Kieran is seen grazing on an expanse of grass, imitating the action of mowing. Behind the artist, a slideshow displays domestic landscapes found in his family photo album, and photographs of warehouses in the eastern, industrial section of Riverside, California.

    Kieran Silva, Consumed Landscape #1, 2020, iPhone video, 3:57 minutes

    Eve Sperling

    Pulling from a vocabulary of historical attire and interior design, Eve Sperling’s work explores the ways in which history and luxury have been displayed in the home space, and the boundaries between the living and inanimate beings that now occupy her sight in quarantine. Heavily influenced by theories of the uncanny, she casts her living spaces as disturbingly familiar sights.

    Eve Sperling, Untitled (Portrait Sitting), 2020, early 19th century French Empire Bergère, white leather gloves, goose down filling, dimensions variable

    Ingrid Topp-Johnson

    Ingrid Topp-Johnson’s senior thesis project, As It Stands Now, diarizes and stylizes the artist’s adaptation as she returned to her childhood home in Minnesota, from her life as a student in Southern California, on the eve of her graduation. As It Stands Now, which takes the form of a downloadable PDF, is a meditation on uncertainty, messianic hope, and the role of intention in creating the self.

    Ingrid Topp-Johnson, As Things Stand (for Ingrid ToppJohnson at least), 2020, digital work

    Nancy Xing

    Envisioned as a Digital App concept, Nancy Xing’s senior thesis project is designed to help people maintain a healthy lifestyle as they adjust to the public health requirements of social distancing due to the global Coronavirus pandemic.

    Nancy Xing, User Research, 2020

    Solánas Yaya

    Solánas Yaya is a manifestor, a Trans-Atlantic Afro-Indigenous artist, botanist, poet, shapeshifter, and universe traveler. Solánas’ work focuses on bringing spirituality, healing, and a Black Indigenous Queer Femme-centric lens to the forefront of art. They work through Earth vibrational-based energies and hope to take you on a journey to their imagined commune.

    Solánas Yaya, Trip to the Commune / Psilocybin, 2020, Digital Photograph


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  • Hans Baumann

    Hans Baumann: 5 Distillations (Salton Sea)

    In 2017, Hans Baumann initiated a long-term artistic collaboration with the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians to measure the disappearance of the Salton Sea from their sovereign tribal lands in the Coachella Valley. Although it is the largest body of water in California, the Salton Sea scarcely registers in the public consciousness and, when it does, it is as a miasmatic blight. By 2030, one-third of the Sea will have disappeared, leaving behind vast expanses of dusty playa contaminated by agricultural runoff and industrial effluents. These low-lying desert lands have been the homeland of the Cahuilla since time immemorial, and the future of the tribal community is inextricably linked to the future of this landscape. This collaboration is an attempt to reflect upon the complex socio-ecological dynamics responsible for the Sea’s existence and to engage with—but not intervene upon—the entropic processes of the Sea’s decline.

    5 Distillations (Salton Sea) is a meditation upon time spent in these environs and an attempt to reframe the trajectory of the Sea’s collapse. At nearly 300 feet below sea level, the Salton Sea is a terrain of perpetual accumulation, its topographical confines a microcosm of our planetary future: it is a landscape of hybrid confusion in which intense ecological dysfunction is counteracted by the stubborn vitality of the biosphere. Here, rare birds nest among abandoned household appliances, and innumerable microorganisms prosper in nutrient-rich drainage canals.Stretches of shoreline are covered with the skeletal remains of tilapia from Mozambique, and verdant orchards foreground brown desert mountains. To the Western mind, these moments are unsettling because they are so comprehensively anthropogenic. This is not Nature as we conceive it, and so the Sea’s immense capacity for life is problematized and cast as dysfunctional. Yet the unbalanced ecosystem of the Salton Sea has value;it is not merely a domain of crisis. 5 Distillations (Salton Sea) presents an alternative narrative for this place: a continuum of cultural and physiographic systems with no precise origin, no definitive end and no moral connotations.

    Related Event:

    February 28 and 29, 2020, Benson Auditorium
    Symposium, “Sovereignty Expanded: Indigenous Geographies of the Contemporary American West”

    This event takes place on the ancestral homelands of the Tongva people. Funding generously provided by the Antipode Foundation, the Robert Redford Conservancy and the Office of the Dean of Faculty at Pitzer College.


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  • Candice Lin

    Natural History: A Half-Eaten Portrait, an Unrecognizable Landscape, a Still, Still Life

    January 25 – March 26, 2020

    The exhibition will comprise a full-scale ceramic representation of Candice Lin reclining with her future cat. Lin’s monumental ceramic sculpture references the history of clay sarcophagi, specifically the Etruscan terracotta funerary sculptures from the 9th through 2nd centuries BCE, famously life-sized and often featuring a man and a woman reclining together. Renowned for their naturalistic representations of the human form, Etruscans practiced the tradition of interring the body, with animal companions or objects that held particular significance to the deceased, within a sarcophagus. Lin imagines housing her own decomposing body and that of the cat that she lives with at the time of her death within this sculptural memento mori. In addition to exploring ideas around mortality and interment, Lin’s installation considers existence and futurity from a post-human perspective by linking the longevity of clay—the life-span of fired ceramics can be thousands of years—with other organic life-cycles. Like historical sarcophagi, where the outstretched limbs of the figures would have once held vessels containing foods or precious objects, Lin’s sculpture will portray her and her cat accompanied by vessels containing preserved plants, seeds, and minerals.

    Complementing the life-size sarcophagus (self-portrait of Lin and her cat), are a series of illuminated glass aquariums, set onto metal stands. Mimicking museological display cases, these vitrines house colonies of Dermestid “flesh-eating” beetles, which will consume a series of works resembling human bones. These objects have been fabricated from a commercial meat-paste substitute combined with Lin’s own dried skin and fingernails. Used in museums for cleaning bones and carcasses for display and research, these carnivorous insects have been employed by Lin to suggest an effective interspecies collaboration—a subject that underpins much of Lin’s practice. By cultivating this family of beetles, which over generations will learn to survive and thrive on this diet, Lin creates a sub-population predisposed to thrive while her own body decays. Requiring constant caretaking, and the harvesting of her own skin, these beetles serve as active reminders of our mortality.

    The materials used by Lin are part of her ongoing research into the histories of colonial trade objects such as porcelain, silk, opium, abortifacient plants, poisons, and cochineal in relation to discourses around whiteness, exoticism, race, and othering. While earlier works focused on the acquisition and exploitation of non-Western botanical and biological processes, this exhibition examines the institutional framing by museums of historical artefacts and organic material—be they sarcophagi or body parts—through their collection and display technologies and by doing so reveals how these systems configure knowledge.


    Related Events:

    Thursday, Feb 20, 1:45 p.m.
    Artist lecture, co-hosted by Ceramics department and Pitzer College Art Galleries
    Nichols Gallery

    Thursday, February 27 1:45 p.m.
    Candice Lin in conversation with Kyla Wazana Tompkins, professor of English and Gender and Women’s Studies at Pomona College
    Nichols Gallery

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