Eleven Figures in Two Parts
The Atkinson Gallery at Santa Barbara City College is pleased to announce the group exhibition Eleven Figures in Two Parts featuring artists who work in Southern California and use the human figure in their art practice.
Part 1: January 17th - February 14th, 2020
Opening reception: Friday, January 24th, 4 - 6 pm
BRIAN CALVIN (b. 1969) is an Ojai, CA based painter who was born in Visalia, CA. He received a BA from the University of California at Berkeley in 1992 and his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1994. Through repetition of his archetypal androgynous figure, the artist invites us to look past the ostensiby feminine visage we are confronted by, and consider the idiosyncrasies of his formal choices. By reducing the face to its essential features, and isolating eyes, lips, hair, hands and nails each element offers pieces of a code for the viewer to interpret. Calvin presents fragments, close-ups and silhouettes of the human face using a vocabulary of luminous color and pictorial economy to create a portrait that relies on a flattened type of abstraction especially seen in his lyrical representation of certain details.
GERALD DAVIS (b.1974) is a Los Angeles based painter who was born in Pittsburg, PA. He received his BFA from the Pennsylvania State University in 1997 and his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1999. His recent work, created in an expressionist pointilism is part of a series of works depicting “Ecstatic Figures” bathing in water or light. His daubs of color are created with brush strokes that can be seen as transcendent energy and are applied via a monoprint-like technique by pressing together wet canvas. The large work included here “Sunbather”, 2020 depicts a reclining figure below an oblong sun and is suggestive of Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s Ecstasy of Saint Teresa or the figures dissolving into the forms of the of their surroundings in Paul Cezanne’s nudes in landscape series.
KARON DAVIS (b.1977) is an Ojai,CA based sculptor who was born in Reno, NV. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California, School of Cinematic Arts in 2001 and co-founder and President of the Underground Museum in Los Angeles. God Bless Preston is from her 2018 solo exhibition Muddy Water - an homage to the thousands of victims of natural disasters. The exhibition featured a procession of life-size white plaster figures, each modeled on a newspaper image from a disaster that occurred in the recent past. Personally affected by the Thomas Fire in 2017, Davis understands the disruptive nature of unexpected natural disasters and the uncertainty of resources available to those in need. The ghost-like plaster casts that are simultaneously both fragile and sturdy, reference real human beings and symbolize the endless nameless victims who are affected by natural disasters.
MANJARI SHARMA (b.1979) is a Santa Barbara based photographer who was born and raised in Mumbai, India. Sharma makes work that is rooted in portraiture addressing the issues of identity, multiculturalism, and personal mythology. Her work has been awarded, published and exhibited internationally. Her best known series Darshan (a Sanskrit term meaning "apparition"), is a photographic re-imagining of Hindu deities. In describing Sharma’s work Stephen C Pinson, curator of photography Metropolitan Museum of Art writes, At first sight, Sharma's creations are so disarming. They are hard to pin down because they don't fit neatly into common pictorial categories. The images seem both real and not real." Her newest series, Surface Tension, features figures fragmented and amended by various bodies of water that surround them.
XAVIERA SIMMONS (b.1974) is an artist born in New York City whose work spans photography, performance, painting, video, sound, sculpture, and installation. Simmons received her BFA from Bard College in 2004 after spending two years on a walking pilgrimage retracing the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade with Buddhist Monks. She completed the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Program in Studio Art in 2005, while simultaneously completing a two-year actor-training conservatory with The Maggie Flanigan Studio. Her studio practice is rooted in an ongoing investigation of sensory experience, memory, and abstraction within present and future histories—specifically shifting notions surrounding landscape—as cyclical versus linear. Simmons is committed to the examination of different artistic modes and processes; she may dedicate part of a year to photography, another part to performance, and other parts to installation, video, and sound work. As of 2019, Simmons is a visiting Professor and lecturer and the Inaugural Solomon Fellow at Harvard University.
Part 2: February 21st - April 3rd, 2020
Opening reception: Friday, February 21st, 4 - 6 pm
TANYA AGUIÑIGA (b. 1978) is a Los Angeles based artist/designer/craftsperson who was raised in Tijuana, Mexico. She holds an MFA in furniture design from Rhode Island School of Design and a BA from San Diego State University. In her formative years she created various collaborative installations with the Border Arts Workshop, an artists' group that engages the languages of activism and community-based public art. Her current work uses craft as a performative medium to generate dialogues about identity, culture and gender while creating community. This approach has helped Museums and non-profits in the United States and Mexico diversify their audiences by connecting marginalized communities through collaboration. Aguiñiga currently has a solo exhibition Borderlands Within/La Frontera Adentro at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, CA through August 9th, 2020.
MARIO AYALA (b. 1991) is a Los Angeles based artist working in painting and sculpture. Ayala was born in Los Angeles and graduated from The San Francisco Art Institute in 2014, where he received the Yale Norfolk fellowship in 2012. He was a participant at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2014. His acrylic airbrushed paintings on canvas employ a type of representative language in which elements coordinate and contradict themselves narratively and spatially. Ayala applies this knowledge and figurative language to social histories, exploring representations of brownness and Latinx identity within the field of painting, and in the way visual representations are able to echo a discursive reality. Ayala will also be featured in the 2020 edition of Made in L.A., the Hammer Museum's biennial exhibition and has an upcoming solo exhibition at Marlborough Gallery in New York in Spring 2020.
DAVID LEGGETT (b. Lives and works in Los Angeles. He moved to Chicago in 2003 after completing his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Savannah College of Art and Design. He was greatly influenced by the Chicago Imagists, a group of representational artists whose work was known for its complete disengagement with New York art world trends, and had the opportunity to work with a few of them at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago while taking classes toward his Masters of Fine Arts degree, which he received in 2007. He attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan, Maine in 2010. He also was an artist in residence at the University of Chicago, Arts and Public Life (2014-15). Leggett works in painting, drawing, printmaking, bookmaking, and installation. His work is heavily influenced by popular culture and both personal and cultural relationships. His work tackles many themes head on; hip-hop, art history, popular culture, sexuality, the racial divide, and the self are all recurring subjects.
RY ROCKLEN (b.1978) is based in Los Angeles, working primarily in sculpture. He received his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Southern California in 2001 and Bachelor of Arts from UCLA 2006. Often working with found objects, Rocklen amplifies mundane, everyday objects - a bean bag chair, or trophies for example - to elevate and aestheticize them. The work on view is Rocklen’s newest addition to a series he began in 2017 called Food Group featuring small sculptures of Rocklen’s friends and colleagues dressed up in food costumes. Starting with the most popular handheld fast foods such as popcorn, a taco, and a slice of pizza, Rocklen has since moved onto more healthful fare like apples, grapes and “The Ojai Pixie”. Each 3D printed sculpture is scaled to the approximate size of the actual food and eventually cast into bronze, satisfying the artist’s fascination of taking something big in order for it to become small again. Though comical and absurd in appearance, these miniature replicas offer a closer look at notions of mass production and capitalist consumption. The works lend themselves to exploring issues of scale, media, form, desire, subjectivity, politics, and our environment. Rocklen's work has been shown nationally and internationally, and has been included in several major survey exhibitions, including Made in LA at the Hammer Museum in 2012 and the 2008 Whitney Biennial.
AMANDA ROSS-HO (b. 1975) was born in Chicago, IL and lives and works in Los Angeles. She holds a BFA from the School of the Art institute of Chicago and an MFA from the University of Southern California and has exhibited widely, both nationally and internationally. Ross-Ho’s work brings together seemingly oppositional languages and spaces: personal imagery and autobiographical artifacts are mined for formal qualities; traces and residues from studio practices are meticulously re-created as deliberate gestures; boundaries between private work and public display are collapsed. She revisits images and forms in multiple iterations, creating scale shifts, moving among different media, or using positive and negative structures. On view here are two new works from her HURTS WORST series that use as inspiration the Pain Rating Scale created in 1981 by two American paediatric nurses as a visual tool to help pre-verbal children accurately describe the complex sensation of pain. Forebears of the omnipresent emoji invented in 1999, the success of the first pain scale begat countless nonproprietary variations, slipping into widespread usage at medical facilities. Claiming stylistic liberty, each version aimed to create a universal metric to measure human suffering, factoring in diverse perspectives of generation, culture, and ability. HURTS WORST mines this database, isolating the faces that represent the extreme end of twelve different pain scales.
ZOE WALSH (b. 1989) was born in Washington DC and currently lives and works in Los Angeles. They received their MFA in Painting and Printmaking, from Yale University, in 2016 and a BA in Art History & Visual Arts, from Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA in 2011. Walsh’s labor intensive artistic process involves exploring issues of gender and identity by subjecting appropriated photo sources of proto-male figures to material and digital transformations through a complex system of conversion, rendering and layering. The resulting digital montages act as blueprints for canvases which are painted with translucent glazes of cyan, magenta, and yellow on bright white gesso allowing them to generously reflect light. Prism and Lens, 2019 and The Peripheries of Love, 2019 are from the artist’s most recent body of work moving the setting of the paintings from the desert landscape to the pool and allowing Walsh to explore the architectural, social, and visual history of these sites as threshold spaces of heightened surveillance, pleasure, exclusion, and unfixed boundaries between public and private.