Peace On Earth
A deep love for imperfect beauty and the belief that art is in everyone fuel my portraiture. As a conduit to other lifetimes, Bahat constructs stories of the past through the people of her present-day life. This series, Dramatis Personae, has given her a unique opportunity to exhibit her personal connection to history, and to share her deep longing for times that no longer exist. Bahat's father introduced her to the Old Masters when she was very young, which had an indelible impact on her. These artists spoke directly to her heart from hundreds of years away, never needing to utter a single word to explain themselves. This showed that it was possible to convey all kinds of emotion through window light, a quiet moment of reflection or even a simple object. Thus began her transition into painting through the use of a camera. The animals exhibited in this series are real. These beautiful creatures have a mind of their own which she admire and fully embrace. She respect their curiosity about the world, and that they bring immense wonder and unexpected moments to these scenes. She acquired a diverse collection of antique furniture, props and frames that carry their own stories and maintain an authenticity throughout the work. Through these items, a piece of history becomes entwined within a contemporary piece of art. It lifts her soul that their existence continues indefinitely.
The two pieces in the show Peace On Earth are from a larger series called Wild Kingdom, created in 2014-15, and first exhibited at Coagula Curatorial. The show received a favorable critical response from writers Christopher Knight of the LA Times, Peter Frank in Artillery Magazine, and Lisa Derrick from the Huffington Post. He thinks these writers had interesting observations. Derrick said of his work, "In Wild Kingdom Campbell shows us that as individuals, our dependency on technology blind us to precipices and predators, to each other. We are living vicariously when we look at a diorama, we live vicariously-and allow each other to live vicariously- through social media." Christopher Knight hits the right note when he says "The signal being sent is sardonic-an elaborate engagement with the self absorbed condition of worldly disengagement. Perhaps they're as oblivious to one another as to the predators around them-or to the theatricality of the animals' representation. Who is tracking whom? And what's the difference between the insentient animals, wild or human?" And Peter Frank observes, "Keeping his production values modest-not tacky but not slick, either-Campbell piles the ludicrous on the poignant, pathos on bathos, in a hall of mirrors satire that keeps unfolding long after you've looked at his art works- and maybe taken a selfie with them."
Coan's hybrid taxidermy, installations, collages, Canary Suicides, and dioramas explore the psychological, sexual, and cultural intersections between wilderness, domesticity, and humanity. Imaginary creatures perch on human furniture in domestic spaces; Victorian prints become reflections on the relationship between child, adult, and pet; and jewel boxes translate as modern reliquaries for the saints’ bones of mice, insects, and HO-scale miniatures, all asking the viewer to engage with his or her own animal inside. Her looking glass reveals surprising details and a sense of humor at once dark and life-affirming, inviting the viewer to linger and become part of each tableau and installation. Coan's background in English literature and poetry (I am an English professor and published poet) imbues her work with literary reference and even some of her own writing.
The sculptures grow out of the bodily suggestions of plants. The figurative characteristics distorted by a construction process which pieces together various organic textures to form a whole. The stitched together appearance of the sculptures make sense; like the husks left behind by the transient body, they are both solid and illusionary. These sculptures anticipated a movement in contemporary sculpture that is totemic, crude, violent, and timeless. Archaic concepts, such as animism, infuse these works, suggesting that natural forms are the common thread that link the world to the collective unconscious. So the question that she ponders is where do images come from? How do es she track her influences? What does she understand and what does she misrepresent?
The ambition of the large painting, CORPUS COLLOSUS, is to imply that all living creatures are a part of one whole fluid process. The composition is held together by a gesture that suggests the double helix of a DNA molecule. The painting is populated by a range of animals that includes a fox/rabbit push-me-pull-you to represent process of Natural Selection, the primary force in evolution of species. The conceptual framework of the piece is further aided by the medium with which it is painted: tar. The tar is collected from the La Brea Tar Pits. To make his own asphalt um paint from this tar, he added thinners and stabilizers. His interest in tar is not only its unusual appearances, but also in the ideas associated with it. Tar is a primordial residue of extinct organisms concentrated by geological process over millions of years. Using tar as a substitute for traditional paint, places my images in the context of deep time so that his subjects can be considered in relation to the long cycles of evolution and extinction. Tar is also a type of the petrochemicals used to fuel our economies, a process at the heart of our contemporary ecological crisis. This fact tars the subjects of these works with the potential of their own extinction.
Everyone knows what it is like to lie on their back and “see” images in the clouds. When she was a child, she would see images not only in the clouds but in many circumstances. The random patterns of linoleum flooring, plaster ceilings or even the way shadows fell across a wall would suggest figures or landscapes to me. As an adult, she approaches her sculpture materials the same way by standing back and looking for what she “see” emerge.
She creates her assemblage sculptures by using the original sculpted elements combined with an assortment of objects she has collected. Often the initial impetus for the sculpture occurs when she finds some interesting fragment of metal or wood. Then an idea takes root and evolves from that “catalyst” piece. Every sculpture is like a puzzle for which she finds and fit each seemingly unrelated piece together in its most expressive form in order to create something new.
Over the past several years Matjas has developed a body of work that seeks to uncover the relationship between natural and unnatural histories. These explorations are largely representational, but far from traditional. Quite often his work looks like a cross between a natural history museum and the local Home Depot. More recently, these explorations have taken shape in a project called “Trail Work,” a series of vividly colored and crisply drawn trail signs inspired by time spent outside in open spaces. In many ways, these rambling little pieces are the result of literal rambles—in nearby mountains, through the scars of recent wildfires, and amidst fierce deserts. As a trail ultrarunner, he sometimes travel quite far on foot, and many of the visual cues found in this series are the result of direct encounters with regional flora, fauna, and geology. “Trail Work” combines a longtime interest in the aesthetics of scientific illustration, signage, and the irreverent renderings of skateboard graphics. These clean, sharply stylized pieces seem to stand in contrast to the gritty surroundings they portray, but there is a sense of immediacy in the graphic, hard-edged language. Although these trail signs are unconventional, they are still functional and directional. They seem ideally suited for the intersection of the expanding wildland-urban interface—they hint at the ecological fragility of our environment, and the not-so subtle ways we continue to impact our surroundings.
This triptych stems from a melding of two complimentary, yet individual, bodies of ongoing work from the artist. In one series, Meyer explores our traditional understanding of and relationship with animals. For this exhibition, her focus is on animals native to the Antelope Valley area: the coyote, the hare and the disappearing antelope. In the other series, Meyer explores the ways roses have been used to communicate to each other, both the living and those long since passed. Roses have since ancient times been left on gravestones as a symbol of regeneration. Merging these two bodies of work together for the first time for this exhibition, the viewer is left with a testament to the depiction of the natural impact of the human condition on ourselves, our planet, and our cohabitants in the plant and animal kingdoms.
Pippa is from a series (Galaxial Gamines) where I sought to engage the viewer in a conversation about the clothing choices we all make everyday before going out to face the world. Pippa is an alien/human hybrid in haute couture and she represents us as well as our hidden selves - do we use clothing to hide? Provoke? Be admired? To belong? I believe it's all that and more.
Migrations is an immersive installation of six illuminated sculptures of the Roseate Spoonbill. Carefully constructed of brightly colored plastics, LED lights and sound, the installation combines whimsy, serious social and political commentary, and a deep commitment to the preservation of our natural environment. First presented at the IMAS in McAllen, Texas, Minet's interpretations of the aquatic bird are intended as artistic surrogates for human experiences in the region.
Native to the Southeast coastal regions, the Roseate Spoonbill migrates all the way to South America, and the Audubon Society considers this bird an indicator of the environmental health of the Gulf Coast. Minet’s sculptures are based on close study of the bird’s anatomical structure with a result that is highly realistic yet painfully fantastical. Additionally, artifacts found along the border with Mexico such as ear buds and Homeland Security bags are imbedded into the sculptures of Migrations. Motion-activated sounds of bird calls and footsteps enhance the viewer's experience. The use of found materials, whether migrant dropped or sourced from recycled household objects, expresses the underlying meanings of the installation. Through these discarded objects, Minet explores both the risks migrants take to escape intolerable situations and the specter of plastic which slowly erodes in our landfills but never disappears.
Given the worldwide migrant crisis, Migrations is strikingly timely in its exploration of the complex social and political issues of borderlands, whether in the United States or worldwide. It is a conceptually and politically astute body of work that exudes a wry hope for our future: that we will commit to the care of our natural and human worlds.
Stephen O' Donnell
Throughout my career, animals - squirrels, dogs, monkeys, birds, mice - have played a frequent supporting role in his work; always an enlivening - humorous, tender - addition. In recent years, though, they've often begun to take center stage. This body of work explores the confrontation between the simplicity of Nature and the extreme artificiality of the most precious of our human craft: wild or mostly wild animals juxtaposed with fine jewelry, Nature versus the highest level of civilization.
In most of these paintings my opposing "objects" - the animal and the jewel - are placed on a sort of stage: a simple wooden platform and a plain, flat background. An animal's imperatives are food, sex, and safety; only very rarely do animals display any impulse for adornment. An emerald necklace has utterly no use to a bird. So it's the unexpected proximity, the tension inherent in these meetings that tells the story; together on stage, in relationship but mutually purposeless.
Humans have the striving intelligence and creativity to take shiny rocks, lumps of metal, grains from a seashell, and craft objects so desirable that people have killed one another to possess them. But it's ironic then that we could never assemble anything the equal of a mouse or a bird, never craft the muscle or claw, feather or fur. With all man's greed for beauty, for rarity, how is it so easy for us to overlook the infinitely more precious creation that is any of the seemingly insignificant creatures we share the planet with?
When danger flares, what do you do?
Since humans first experienced the fight or flight reflex, the subconscious brain has told us what, when, and whom to fear. This remains so. When faced with peril, our bodies respond with intensified adrenaline and racing heart beats. Survival depends on our instantaneous emotional response instructing us to run or stay, a millisecond before our rational self can decide.
While our brains have not changed, what we fear has. It is rarely a carnivorous beast that triggers our instinct to run. It is pictures of burning skyscrapers, reports of schoolchildren crouching behind desks to hide from bullets, or a gathering of teens in hoodies that make us tremble: Our 21st Century litany of what to fear.
But are these threats real? Pond's series “Menace” challenges us to question what we “know.” “Menace” confronts us with frightening, darkened, wild animals that trigger the ancient instinct, while our rational mind knows we are in a safe, civilized space, viewing images.
We look longer, closer, and realize the threat was never there: these are taxidermied animals, their images captured in bright sunlit shops, manipulated later by the artist to ferocity. They frighten, but are impotent.
Menace asks us to consider if our modern fears are justified, or if our contemporary bogeymen are figments of our imagination, mere empty threats manipulated by an unseen hand.
‘The Rat and the Octopus’ is a myth told throughout Polynesia that tells the story of an Octopus that was tricked into helping a deceptive Rat. The Rat was adrift at sea and made a deal with an Octopus to be carried safely to shore and in return it would give the Octopus a reward. Instead, it left a pile of dung on its head and ran away, the Octopus felt tricked and angry. Fishermen to this day still play on this anger, making rat-like lures to entice Octopus who still want to avenge the Rat This visual interpretation of the myth deals with contemporary local and global issues of broken agreements and kept promises through the personification of the Rat and Octopus characters; such as climate change, water rights, homelessness and humanities relationship to animals, spirituality and each other. The animals are set on a Polynesian navigation pattern, locating them adrift at sea trying to find their way to shore as well as in Polynesia, where the myth originated. The 10 Handshakes placed on a map key each represent the kept promise and broken agreement in each pair of characters.
Richardson sees our attraction to predators as a manifestation of human longing for things that are dangerous and beautiful. She believes that passion is evoked by the things that can annihilate us and shares a fascination for untamed realms, remembering close encounters with disquieting vulnerability. In Ghost Dogs, Richardson depicts wild dogs in the African Bush, isolated from human intervention. This group of sculpture conveys a dichotomy between savage and benign as the structures come together with opposing qualities. The gnarled and rough wood is paired with the crush and pull of fabric as it relates to skin over bone and attention is given to craft while embracing flaws in the material. Stitching the fabric over the finished structure secures it in place and unto itself, the stitching becomes a form of mark making. Most of the materials are found or discarded, such as tree branches and recycled clothing. Richardson’s process involves researching scores of pictures to find those that highlight the animal’s expression and movement. Each structure begins with attention to the skeleton and muscle groups emphasizing the asymmetry of the form. As she works with the pictures in front of her, she strives to create a sense of believability rather than realism, knowing that new information will lead to discovery. Educated in New York, Richardson’s art training ran for more than a decade in a self-directed curriculum. She studied at FIT, Parsons, School of Visual Art and the New York Academy of Art. She entered the industry as a commercial artist and was in charge of developing original artwork for the fashion industry. As for having an impact on her vision, she gives credit to years of travel, seeking venues that upend our everyday sense of normal.
Laurie Sumiye - Ohana o Ka Manu Video
Sumiye is a Hawai‘i-based artist, animator and documentary filmmaker who investigates environmental tensions between humans and nature. Her background in digital media informs her cross-disciplinary practice in drawing, painting, animation, video, sculpture and installation. She has exhibited her art in New York, Los Angeles, Hawai‘i and internationally, in the UK, South Africa and Brazil and screened her award-winning films at DOC NYC, BAM cinemaFest and PS1MoMA. She has an MFA in Integrated Media Arts from Hunter College, BA & BS in Art and Communications from Bradley University, and studied art at Lorenzo De Medici in Florence and Pratt Institute in New York. She spent 16 years working as an art director and designer in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York. She returned to Hawaiʻi to work on her first long-form documentary, A PARADISE LOST, about a Hawaiian bird that sued to save itself from extinction. Laurie serves as Assistant Professor of Creative Media/Transmedia at the University of Hawaiʻi-West Oʻahu. She lives and works in Mililani, Hawai‘i.
Thor's newest series of sculptures, Paleolithic Creatures, is an homage to our prehistoric ancestors and the animals they painted on cave walls. Those paintings provide powerful depictions of man's inherent drive to express himself through art. Hidden for millennia, but many looking as fresh as the day they were made, this ancient art shows representational animals that inhabited their world and sustained them with food and clothing. However, at the end of the last glacial period, about 10,000 years ago, the climate warmed dramatically and many Paleolithic animals became extinct. The only history of their ghostly existence are fossils and cave paintings.
“With my art, I am inspired…to challenge the viewer to feel the natural spirit of inclusion. There is no corner of this planet that man does not live in, and no corner of which man has not caused change. We must be good stewards of this planet Earth, and remember that extinction is forever.”
Sometimes it came by road, other times it came by sea II
This sculpture is composed of a flesh tone replica of Columbus’s mother ship, the Santa Maria. The ship is floating on the backs of bio-morphed rodents with human noses in place of their heads. The work explore the sociological and political weight of ideology, similes of plague and invasive dogmas coexisting in a utopia that has gone wildly wrong.