Alake Shilling: A Bug's Life

22 Apr 2023 – 3 Jun 2023

Regular hours

11:00 – 18:00
11:00 – 18:00
11:00 – 18:00
11:00 – 18:00
11:00 – 18:00
11:00 – 18:00

Free admission

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'A Bug’s Life', Alake Shilling’s new exhibition of ceramic sculptures, is an ode to childhood and spring—the seasons of (re)birth, wholesomeness and adventure.


'A Bug’s Life', Alake Shilling’s new exhibition of ceramic sculptures, is an ode to childhood and spring—the seasons of (re)birth, wholesomeness and adventure. “I have been ruminating on my fascination with 'A Bug’s Life' since I was a child,” Shilling says. “Snuggling on my comfy pillows and thinking about being a bug in my own right. Living in my cocoon and interacting with the human world at my own discretion. Very little has changed in my world, and 'A Bug’s Life' is reflective of that.” Childhood has always been the starting point of Shilling’s artistic practice. In her work, she reconfigures the pop culture references of her youth with an intuitive use of materials and colors. Nostalgia and cheerfulness meet in her new ceramics—an ecosystem of friendly snails, ladybugs, worms, bumblebees, bunnies, butterflies, frogs and mushrooms. These fantasy figures evoke a range of human emotions, from loneliness and anxiety to ecstatic happiness. The characters are gender-neutral, possessing a duality of masculine and feminine elements. These figures appear bubbly and colorful, but there is always something disturbing lurking beneath the surface. Nature is Shilling’s primary source of inspiration. “Nature is the standard of beauty which I aspire to reach,” says the artist. “Although humans are part of nature, there has been a huge divide between humans and nature since the Industrial Revolution. I feel these days, it is very hard to feel connected to nature. 'A Bug’s Life' represents a return to nature. Nature exists outside of human creation and humans are impacting nature in a detrimental way. My art reveres and celebrates nature.” Her ceramic creatures represent rebirth from a long season of hibernation. “Now is the springtime: a rebirth of society post-pandemic.” Shilling strongly identifies as a Black artist. Although her pop culture imagery is generally not associated with contemporary African American art, she explains that a strong connection can be drawn to the animal totems and traditional mythology from Yoruba culture. The personification of nature is also extremely important to people of African descent. Nature is the explanation of phenomena, an agent of change, and a character that engages and interacts with the material world with intention. Alake Shilling was born in Los Angeles in 1993 where she continues to work in her home studio. Shilling’s first solo exhibition was in 2018 at 356 Mission, an artist-run community space in Los Angeles. Shilling’s first exhibition at Jeffrey Deitch, 'The Hippest Trip in America — By Air, Land, and Sea', was presented in New York in 2021. Shilling’s work was included in 'Clay Pop', curated by Alia Dahl at Jeffrey Deitch in New York in 2021 and is currently in 'Funk You Too! Humor And Irreverence in Ceramic Sculpture' curated by Angelik Vizcarrondo-Laboy at the Museum of Art and Design in New York. 'A Bug’s Life' coincides with the publication of Shilling’s first monograph, 'The Hippest Trip in America — By Air, Land, and Sea', titled after her solo exhibition at the gallery.

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Alake Shilling

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