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In the Artists’ Words

In the Artist’s Words | Lynne Berman

I will be exhibiting a series of drawings made from war tours taken in Vietnam. This project is a continuing exploration and expansion of my work based on war tourism that takes the form of abstract drawings and language-based works.

My drawing process merges the language of gestural abstraction with systems-based drawing. I begin with  “tracking”, or visually recording, the pathways and specific movements of a subject, such as a tourist or tour guide, throughout the course of a tour. Initially, this work developed from the impulse to create drawings based on the activity of walking. I wanted to document movements, or “track”, a subject through space and began to see specific social spaces as a rich terrain for explorations that formed a bridge to my past performative work.

I was a child in elementary school during the Vietnam War and can still recall the experience of viewing the iconic picture I saw on the cover of the newspaper at our kitchen table in 1972, a naked girl running down a street after having been burned in a napalm attack. This startling and horrific image imprinted itself in my mind and created a tangible, if distant connection to the war. I am interested in how the history of the Vietnam War is being retold through tourism and historical narratives that are re-creations of actual events. The activity of tourism at war sites creates a version of history that is a re-written narrative of events, functioning as memorial, spectacle and voyeurism.

My drawings are not documentary in nature nor are they social commentary, but instead look at how tourism interacts with history, especially with sites of trauma. The focus on Vietnam War tours reflects both a personal and cultural relationship to that history, but my work is not about the Vietnam War, or even War Tourism. I wanted to go to Vietnam to see the physical places of the war and create work that is absorbed in that experience and is highly subjective.

In the Artist’s Words | Martin Durazo

For the C.O.L.A. exhibition I am continuing my Plata O Plomo series exploring the connection between the illegal narco-drug trafficking world and the “legal” pharmaceutical industry. In these works I interpret an aesthetic that aims to arouse sensations that Rave and other ancillary drug cultures create and to explore society’s desensitized attitude toward the drug phenomenon. Juxtaposing spiritual symbolism and notions of transcendence, the work takes the form of collages, paintings, and reflective surfaces (chrome, steel, mirror, and insulation panels) layered with ephemeral and printed imagery and spray painted with abstractions, punctured works on paper, and multi-textured sculpture.

In the Artist’s Words | Heather Flood

This project, Wonder Wall, is located at the intersection between architectural and graphic form. It explores the large-scale visual effects that can be produced when two-dimensional graphic patterns are translated into three-dimensional constructions. Specifically, Wonder Wall translates a swatch of tartan fabric into a three dimensional construction made out of interlocked strips of perforated colored aluminum. The intersecting vertical and horizontal strips of aluminum gently rotate to form a grid with multiple overlapping conditions. As the aluminum overlaps, new colors begin to emerge and a gradient field of porous openings is created. Wonder Wall slips between two and three dimensions into a space of 2.5D where visual matter and material construction synchronize into one synthetic experience.

In the Artist’s Words | Mark Steven Greenfield

My recent work continues work begun in 2010 that explores characters adopted by the dominant culture to promote stereotypes of African Americans. While the “Doo-Dahz” series focused on impressions of blackface minstrel show performers, my latest work focuses on animated cartoon characters from the 1930s, 40s and through the 70’s. Characters include Br’er Rabbit and Tar -Baby from Disney’s Song of the South; Bosko; Professor Scarecrow and Jasper from George Pal’s Puppetoons; the crows from Dumbo; and characters from Ralph Bakshi’s Coonskin. The genre raises questions dictated by personal history and each individual’s threshold of tolerance. For some, it may be solely entertainment with references learned and associated with African American culture, while for others these blatantly derogatory characterizations are seen to promote African American stereotypes for the purpose of social conditioning and control.  It has always been my belief that dialogue on this subject is essential and it is my impetus for doing this often controversial work. Influenced to some degree by the earlier work of Gary Simmons and Michael Ray Charles, I’ve incorporated elements of design in my work that draw from the traditions of automatic writing as a form of mental mapping of the subconscious where, I contend, these images reside as a part collective American psyche.

In the Artist’s Words | Steve Hurd

“Kingdom” is my painted rendition of a medieval castle that stands thirteen feet tall and is made up of five individually shaped panels. The installation operates as a stand-in façade for the real thing and takes painting into the realm of sculptural object while playing with the visual illusion of trompe l’oeil, a parable relevant today in light of society’s increasing existence behind digital masking, real life postmodern (castle like) facades, and increased border patrol.

Castles came in to prominence after the fall of the Roman Empire when the world was in disarray locked in feudal wars. They distinguish themselves from fortresses by being the personal residences of a particular individual and or family, but like fortresses, they’re also a place for security, sanctuary, and the staging of battle operations.

On one hand, the façade is only a front that is held up by wooden braces, reminiscent of Hollywood film sets. It’s a  fake, but as an artwork its purpose changes and opens for discussion it’s “at first sight promise” (of the castle) and its’ subsequent failure to make good on that promise—being nothing more than a painting. In this light, the betrayal is redeemed by the contemplative space the painting provides, a “Kingdom” for the mind.

In the Artist’s Words | Maryrose Mendoza

Utilizing everyday materials and their associations has been a resourceful and poetic way for me to develop ideas. Most recently, my work involves relocating materials to discover whether connections are still apparent. For COLA, I began with universal elements: circles, spheres. I had never explored the shape/form in depth. Spheres or circles reference the earth, the natural world, and spiritual practices like Buddhism. Engaged by this, I began making balls, drawing circles.

Housing is also universal. A home connotes what is native, domestic, familiar. I began connecting the micro and the macro, considering how “home” is defined.  It is not just a state of mind, as in, “home is where the heart is.” It is a resource, a place of ease, rest, centrality.

Buckminster Fuller designed his Fullerene projection with affordable shelters in mind. In homage, I utilized that projection in my sculpture, “Fullerene,” suggesting tradition, warmth and classism by forming a sphere from classic American home-building material, wood siding.

The gouache drawing, “Aloha Projection,” maps the surface of a sphere for another sculpture, “global,” a soft sphere constructed from 32 Aloha shirts that depict water or island images. The Aloha shirt’s associations to a “laid-back” lifestyle and longings for an island paradise also create a type of world.

In the Artist’s Words | Rika Ohara

The idea for the installation Sleepers is an old one. I have always felt that we dream in flashes of images, or short bursts of sequential images, and then “edit” them into narratives upon awakening. The very early ideas on how to execute this piece were with multiple video monitors. However, the monitors became superfluous during the subsequent years, as the Internet took over that part of our minds formerly occupied by television. YouTube now allows uploads up to 15 minutes, recalling Andy Warhol’s “15 minutes of fame,” and people who used to talk back to TV are now posting comments instead. This is the form Sleepers takes –– although you may be seeing it now on a monitor, you will see it projected, or on your monitor at home.

Then there is the content –– it’s very difficult for me to get excited enough to start working without a story. The story I have now is Carmilla, my second feature film. It’s a sprawling epic that begins in 19th century Styria and zigzags through time and space from the 5th century Pannonian Plain and Hitler’s office to end up in 21st century Berlin. Dream sequences and images lace the narrative together and I will keep adding to the library of flashes as I create new work beyond the COLA installations.