In two upcoming exhibitions, SoLA Contemporary will examine the ways in which cultural dominance and oppression within a society play a role in whose stories are documented and whose are erased. The artists of Breaking the Mold and Pickled Memories use their work to pose important questions around who records history and for what purpose, and how the idea of history as objective truth leaves out entire experiences and the identities that go with them.
Breaking the Mold seeks to answer these questions through a global lens by reclaiming abstraction as part of artmaking across centuries and cultures long before the advent of European Modernism. The artists have created a series of abstractions which ask their audience who invented abstract art and why its origins have been ascribed to the handful of artists that come to mind.
In Pickled Memories, Adrian White uses his own personal history to trace a line back to his origins, realizing in the process that through time and circumstance, much of that history has been lost. White’s photographs and sculptural work serve as a concrete reminder that for everything that could be saved, something has gone missing, making the preserved memories all the more valuable in the endeavor to claim a personal and historical identity and create a whole using these intimate parts.
BREAKING THE MOLD
Curator’s Statement: Breaking the Mold examines American abstract art-making in the work of six, diverse mid-career artists who work with a range of materials, visual vocabularies, and compositional systems. Despite their uniquely personal, formal and conceptual expressions, they share a certain context with one another.
It is known that the roots of abstraction pre-date Modernism from Europe and certainly the New York School. Many 20th century art movements borrowed from forms of abstraction found in centuries old Indigenous art from Africa, the Americas, Asia and Polynesia. This exhibition presents compelling works by a group of talented contemporary artists working today, while it also argues for the breaking of the institutional mold that was created by the colonization of abstract art.
Sharon Louise Barnes, curator of Breaking the Mold, is an inter-disciplinary Los Angeles artist. She studied at Otis College of Art & Design where she returned to complete her MFA in Fine Art. She also holds a B.A. in Television-Film from CSULA. Barnes has been the recipient of residences at Ox-Bow School of Art & Artist Residency and the Spelman College Art Colony at Taller Portobelo, Panama. Through the language of Social Abstraction, her work considers the current and historic intersections of culture, race, and gender. Her work is part of the collection of the UCLA Ralph Bunche Center for African American Studies.
Regina Herod is a Los Angeles-based sculptor and painter. She earned her BFA at San Diego State University and her MFA from The Otis College of Art & Design. Her work conflates materials such as wood, wax, metal and paper as surrealistic metaphors in order to re-imagine the relevance between current and colonized history and the emotional terrains and circumstance that remain. Her work examines historized trauma within the context of race, socio-economic disenfranchisement and systemic oppression.
Mirena Kim is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Los Angeles. Kim holds an MFA from Otis College of Art and Design and a BA from The University of California at Santa Cruz. Kim’s sculptures begin with traditional ceramic practices such as hand-building and wheel-throwing, then veer sharply into critique through the use of scale, fragmentation, placement and perspective. Her abstract paintings are about the ways in which mark-making can create a partnership between the maker and the viewer.
Pete Hoffecker Mejia is a sculptor and painter currently based in Oregon where he is an Assistant Professor at Western Oregon University. He received his BFA from the University of Memphis and an MFA from Indiana University. He has been an artist-in-residence at the Ox-Bow School of Art, the Vermont Studio Center, the Studios at MASS MoCA and others. Hoffecker Mejia’s work is engaged in the exploration and mediation of intersectional cultural identity, hierarchies of representation, and the politics of abstraction. His structures investigate the blurred points of contact resulting from estragement, while also looking at the continuing impacts of colonialism.
Moncho 1929 (born Dan Monteavaro) combines elements of street art, figurative abstraction, and sociopolitical content, to create studio works on canvas, as well as public murals. His work has been featured in various solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally, including the Perez Art Museum in Miami, and Gallery Ann in Seoul, Korea. His work was recently acquired for the permanent collection of The Figge Art Museum, and can be found in many other private and corporate collections, including Google, the French Consulate, Paramount, and Universal.
Jamaal Hasef Tolbert is a Los Angeles-based multi-disciplinary artist. He earned his B.A. in Sociology & Art from California State University, Bakersfield, completed his certification in Art & Marketing from Sotheby’s in London, and continued his studies at Claremont Graduate University where he received his MFA in Studio Art. His work encourages viewers to reconsider their role in social construction, civil rights, and white hegemony. He is also passionate about educating young artists and art novices.
In Pickled Memories, artist Adrian White combines photography, video installation and sculpture, highlighting family trauma and examining the history of the African Diaspora through the use of personal archives. His goal is to connect with his ancestors by remembering the past, documenting the present, and imagining a Utopian future.
In addition to wall-mounted photographs, this body of work uses archival prints suspended in jars of corn syrup, as a reference to White’s childhood memories of his grandmother making peach preserves in her kitchen. The sculptures are then used in the film entitled “Pickled Memories: For White’s Only”, buried in the ground by White and his family. The mason jar sculptures thus become a metaphor for holding onto something of value in times of need.
Artist’s Statement: “Grappling with its false allure of truth, I document the African
diaspora in an effort to connect with my ancestors. Photography is a malleable
medium, shaping the world through lenses and biases. History is manipulated,
reconfigured to fit agendas. Their systematic extermination has been erased from
history and silenced in classrooms. I remember them, I connect with them - so that
we can begin to heal. I document the present. I remember the past. I imagine a
utopian future. By connecting with my ancestors, I learn about myself.
It is in the remembering that I believe that we can begin to heal.
As evidence of how, when and where black bodies existed is erased.
The remnants persist.
My visibility is my weapon.
My ancestors have scars and like the family photographs that I study and create
those scars tell a story. Both love and loss exist in family photographs. That love and
those scars are the reason I create my art.
It’s this push and pull that I explore.”
Visitation to the gallery, OPEN Thurs, Friday and Saturday, 11 – 4 pm
SoLA will adhere to the following Covid guidelines:
· Please wear a mask when visiting
· Please follow social distancing guidelines (markers on floor)
· Wash your hands frequently (we provide hand sanitizer / soap and water)
· SoLA staff will keep all touchable surfaces wiped down between visitations
· We will only allow small groups into gallery at a time
· Limited space available for walk-in visitors, to view the show by appointment please email email@example.com
SoLA Contemporary Mission
South LA (SoLA) Contemporary is a nonprofit, artist-run organization that serves as a cornerstone for cultural and artistic innovation in South Los Angeles. Our goal is to advocate for change by empowering people from diverse backgrounds to take risks in their endeavors and to explore the intersection of art, culture, society and politics. Above all, SoLA Contemporary is a safe and receptive space for anyone seeking to experience the power of contemporary art.