Aili Schmeltz

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What Is My Work About? 

In my artistic work, I examine the transformation of the Californian landscape through the lens of mid century aesthetics using raw materials of environmental relevance. My creative practice follows two distinct paths of exploration. First, I produce material-based works researching the architectural history and cultural philosophy of the California dream as realized in the development of the city of Los Angeles. My second path involves a series of collaborative projects in response to travel and place, where local community participation is essential.


Artist Statement

In my artistic work, I examine the transformation of the Californian landscape through the lens of mid century aesthetics using raw materials of environmental relevance. My creative practice follows two distinct paths of exploration. First, I produce material-based works researching the architectural history and cultural philosophy of the California dream as realized in the development of the city of Los Angeles. My second path involves a series of collaborative projects in response to travel and place, where local community participation is essential. Examples of this second category include an international and interdisciplinary collaboration reflecting on and created on location during the swine flu epidemic in Mexico, and an ethnographic documentation of cave dwellers in Cappadocia, Turkey. The most recent large-scale community project in process is Outpost Projects, a homesteader cabin on five acres in the high desert of California that will serve as an experimental project site. These two aspects of my practice mutually inform one another, and are equally important in my overall creative body of work.

My current body of object based work in process, Psionic Generators, combines an interest in utopic architecture and philosophy to investigate forms that claim to be ‘ESP activating’ from a 1970’s New Age book about psionic generators. Psionic generators are devices that propose to activate the energy streaming from your eyes with specific proportions and relationships to induce paranormal phenomena. I manipulate the patterns and proportions of these psionic generators as neither a believer or a critic, I think of them as fascinating tools to generate form and question the resulting function.

The recent Tomorrowland series explores the idea that utopia can be considered not only a place or a goal, but also as the very act of striving for such a target. These hybridized structures are materializations, remnants of an ideal that never was and may never be. As fallen monuments to a utopic philosophy, they function as relics of both a “good place” and “no place.” They nod towards a bright future and a fallen past, recontextualizing and recombining materials that are both nostalgic and futuristic. An embedded sense of naiveté is inherent to the objects, formed from a chemical bond of sunshine and noir that was repeatedly cooled and heated by urban temperament and artifice. Part architectural, part fossil, part potential: these works utilize discarded building materials that appear to have crystallized within a ‘natural’ process—strata that have undergone philosophical transformation yet to be fulfilled.

This process of research began with an interest in the history of the midwestern suburban landscape and culture from my youth, where the middle class idea of “the good life” fueled a massive overhaul of the American landscape that would drastically alter how we live for generations to come. This background, combined with my fascination and love/hate relationship with the city of Los Angeles, has lead me to examine mid-century philosophies of utopia and idealism. Los Angeles has a sordid environmental history as a strange apocalyptic theme park. Its plush, manicured landscape is a reminder of both a forced growth in an otherwise Mediterranean geography, and as a monument to human ingenuity made possible by diverting an unfathomable amount of water from distant sources. I am captivated by the hybridized structures and blatant artifice of the city in both its natural and man-made environments where hill top homes float precariously overhead on earth that has a topographical complexity of embedded catastrophe.



2014      University of California, Los Angeles Extension – Advanced Web & Interactive Design Certificate
2003      University of Arizona – Master of Fine Arts – Printmaking & Sculpture – Tucson, AZ
1997      Kansas City Art Institute – Bachelor of Fine Arts – Printmaking & Painting – Kansas City, MO


2013      Project Room Gallery, Grand Central Art Center, California State University Fullerton – Crosscut – Santa Ana, CA
2013      Prescott College Art Gallery – Tomorrowland – Prescott, AZ
2011      Museum of Contemporary Art – Tomorrowland – Tucson, AZ
2010      Greenleaf Gallery, Whittier College – La Fuente de la Vida – Whittier, CA
2008      Locust Projects – The Magic City – Miami, FL
2008      Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts – Gods Eye – Omaha, NE
2008      Gardiner Art Gallery, Oklahoma State University – Storm Tracking – Stillwater, OK
2006      Tilt Gallery and Project Space – Comfort Food – Portland, OR


2014     Friedman Benda Gallery – Apocryphal Times – New York, NY
2014      Ichibeicho Gallery – From The Dust Returns – Curated by Kio Griffith – Tokyo, Japan
2014      Gallery MC – Contemporary Abstraction – New York, NY
2014      Universidad de Guanajuato – Esferas – León, Mexico
2014      Autonomie Projects – DraftPunk – Los Angeles, CA
2014      The Hoxton Gallery – Up and Coming – London, UK
2014      Torrance Art Museum – MAS ATTACK 6 – Torrance, CA
2014      LA Art Book Fair, MOCA Geffen – Feminist Dossiers project participant, with WCCW (Women’s Center for Creative Work) – Los Angeles, CA
2014      Centro Cultural Atarazanas – Una Casa Como Yo – Veracruz, Mexico
2014      Torrance Art Museum – Prep School – surviving an Apocalypse, or not. Prepper and Survivalist Ideologies and Utopian/Dystopian Visions. –
Torrance, CA
2013      Commonwealth & Council – site specific permanent Installation, Portal – Los Angeles, CA
2013      Pete & Susan Barrett Art Gallery, Santa Monica College – SMC Faculty Exhibition – Santa Monica, CA
2013      José Drudis-Biada Gallery, Mount Saint Mary’s College – Divergent Geometry – Los Angeles, CA
2013      Galeria La Miscelanea, Universidad Del Arte – Una Casa como Yo: Asuntos Domésticos – Puebla, Mexico
2012      Zatoka Sztuki – Projekt Papier – Curator: Gosia Wojas – Sopot, Poland
2012      Pacific Design Center – Ground Control – Curator: 5790projects – Los Angeles, CA
2012      High Desert Test Sites – Postcard Project 2012 – Joshua Tree, CA
2012      California State University, Northridge Gallery – Singles and Series – Northridge, CA
2012      Land of Tomorrow Gallery – F/Utility – Lexington, KY
2012      Vincent Price Museum – East Los Angeles College Art Faculty Show – Los Angeles, CA
2012      Cerritos College Art Gallery – Architectural Deinforcement: Constructing Disaster and Decay – Los Angeles, CA
2012      Jardin De Las Esculturas – Una Casa como Yo: Asuntos Domésticos – Xalapa, Mexico
2012      Torrance Art Museum – Blank Land – Torrance, CA
2012      Shangrila 2012 – Joshua Tree, CA
2012      Central Utah Art Center – The Gangs all Here; Art from LA – Ephraim, Utah
2012      University of South Dakota – Binary Inventions Print Portfolio – Grand Forks, ND
2011      Asihlquaiss Offspace – Anonyme Zeichner Archiv – Zurich, Switzerland
2011      Summercamp Project Project – Friday Night Lights & Sunday Afternoons – Los Angeles, CA
2011      Occidental College Gallery – Land Mark – Los Angeles, CA


2011      El Bauhaus Gallery – Una Casa Como Yo: Asuntos Domésticos – Monterrey, Mexico
2011      Washington State University Gallery – Build Up – Curator: Michelle Forsythe – Pullman, WA
2011      The Lodge – Coming and Going – Bloomington, IN
2011      Co/Lab- LA Mart – Los Angeles, CA
2010      Golden Parachutes Gallery – Flat File – Berlin, Germany
2010      Museum of Contemporary Art – MADE in Tucson/BORN in Tucson/LIVE in Tucson – Tucson, AZ
2010      Jen Bekman Gallery – New Topographies – New York, NY
2010      AT1 Projects – Volume – Curator: Andrea Neustein – Los Angeles, CA
2010      Archer Gallery, Clark College – Alight – Vancouver, WA
2009      Gallery Satori – Invisible Duck Tape – New York, NY
2009      Phantom Gallery – Molasses Happens Rather Quickly – Long Beach, CA
2009      Liste Basel – Anonymous Drawings no.9 Archive – Basel, Switzerland
2009      Freie Universitat Berlin – Anonymous Drawings no.9 Archive – Berlin, Germany
2009      Lumenhouse Gallery – Abstractions and Contractions – Brooklyn, NY
2009      The Sketchbook Project Traveling Exhibition – Venues: Museum of Contemporary Art- Washington DC, 3rd Ward Gallery-
Brooklyn,NY,Antena Gallery- Chicago IL, Chris’ Jazz Café-Philadelphia, PA, Laconia Gallery- Boston, MA, Art House Gallery – Atlanta, GA,
Museum of Design- Atlanta, GA
2009      The Armoury Gallery – Western States – Milwaukee, WI
2009   Gallery Arcane – Sweet and Low: Optimism in a Pessimistic Age – San Francisco, CA
2008      Kreuzberg/Bethanien – Anonymous Drawings no.9 – Berlin, Germany
2008      Jen Bekman Gallery – X Marks the Spot – New York, NY
2008      Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock – Drawing Los Angeles – Los Angeles, CA
2008      Torrance Art Museum – Torrance Juried Exhibition – Juror: Gosia Wojas – Torrance, CA
2008      Barnsdall Park – Los Angeles Biennial Juried Exhibition – Jurors: Carl Berg, Lisa Melandri &   Tyler Stallings
2008      Art for Empty Walls – March Featured Artist – Los Angeles, CA
2007      Rosenburg Gallery – The Ethnography of No Place – Baltimore, MD
2007      The Affair at the Jupiter Hotel – with Tilt Gallery – Portland, OR
2007      Urban Institute for Contemporary Art – Console – Grand Rapids, MI
2007      Portland Art Center – Console – Portland, OR
2006      Gallery 825 – Southern California Open – Juror: Ann Philbin – Los Angeles, CA
2006      Gallery 500 – Inertia – Portland, OR
2006      Dinnerware Gallery – Systemic – Tucson, AZ
2006      Sam Hill Warehouse Gallery – Prescott College Faculty Showcase – Prescott, AZ


2015      Scuola Internazionale di Grafica Venezia – Artist Pension Trust Fellowship Prize Residency
Venice, Italy
2013      California Community Foundation Fellowship for Visual Arts – Los Angeles, CA
2011      Foundation For Contemporary Arts – Grant – New York, NY
2011      Center For Cultural Innovation – Creative Capacity Fund Grant – San Francisco, CA
2011      Babayan Cultural House – Residency – Cappadocia, Turkey
2010     Durfee Foundation – Artist Resource for Completion Grant – Los Angeles, CA
2009     Pollock-Krasner Foundation – Grant  – New York, NY
2009      Takt Kunstprojektraum – Residency – Berlin, Germany
2008      Bemis Center For Contemporary Arts – Residency – Omaha, NE
2006      Raid Projects- Residency – Los Angeles, CA
2006      Arizona Commission of the Arts – Professional Development Grant – Pheonix, AZ
2005      Sculpture Space – Residency –  Utica, NY


2014      Fabrik Magazine – Eight LA Artists to Know – by Kio Griffith – June 20 – Los Angeles, CA
2013      Otis College of Art and Design, Freeway Studies: Studio Visits with L.A. Artists blog –   Aili Schmeltz, Baldwin Hills – by Jeseca Dawson –
October 30 – Los Angeles, CA
2013      Anderson Ranch Arts Center Blog – Spotlight on Summer 2013 Painting Faculty: Aili Schmeltz – May 3 – Aspen, CO
2013      Belio Magazine – Aili Schmeltz, Recycled Utopias – April 19 – Madrid, Spain



2013      20 x 200– A Jen Bekman Project – Crystaline Bunker limited print edition – January 10 – New York, NY
2012      Juxtapoz Magazine – The Conceptual Works of Aili Schmeltz – December 29
2012      Green Prophet; Environmental News of the Middle East – Save the Cave Dwellers of Cappadocia – May 22 – Tafline Laylin
2012      GYST Radio Interview – Hybrid Artists Aili Schmeltz and Danielle McCullough – March 8 Kara Tome
2012      20 x 200– A Jen Bekman Project – Urban Storm limited print edition – January 10 –New York, NY
2012 – Q&A With Artist Aili Schmeltz – June 7 – Sarah Saxon
2012      Big Artist Now – featured artist & commissioned design – Las Vegas, NV
2012      Cerritos College – Architectural Deinforcement exhibition catalogue – Los Angeles, CA
2011      Tucson Weekly – The ‘Good Life’ – May 5 – By Margaret Regan
2011      Ruby: Otherworldliness book – April 15 – Edited by Irana Douer – Gestalten Publishers – Berlin, Germany and London, UK
2010      Build Up – exhibition catalogue – essay ‘Paint Misbehavin’ written by Craig Drennen –  Washington State University Gallery – Pullman, WA
2010      Volume – exhibition catalogue – Los Angeles, CA
2010      La Fuente de la Vida – catalogue – ‘Overlapping Narratives’ by David Hernández Casas – Los Angeles, CA / Monterrey, Mexico
2010      NY Arts Magazine – ‘Best of the West Coast’- Nov/Dec. issue – New York, NY
2010      TAKE (artist) ‘Our Mountain’ (album title) – Album and CD cover – AstroPup Records – April – Los Angeles, CA
2010      Studio Visit Magazine – The Open Studios Press – November 1 – Curator: Carl Belz
2008      The Daily O’Collegian of Oklahoma State University – ‘Art Gets in Shape’ by Matt Johnson – September 22 – Stillwater, OK
2008      Baltimore City Paper – ‘Road to Nowhere’ – April 16 – Baltimore, MD – Deborah McLeod
2008      Elvis in Hawaii Blogspot – ‘Interview with Aili Schmeltz’ – by Claudio Parentela – April 17 –   Catanzaro, Italy
2008      Ruby Mag – Feature – January 15 – Buenos Aires, Argentina
2008      20 x 200– A Jen Bekman Project – ‘Embedded’ limited edition – April 1 – New York, NY
2008      Miami Art Review – Interview with Aili Schmeltz – by Aimee Sinclair – February 9 – Miami, FL
2007      Ethnography of No Place – catalogue – Rosenburg Gallery – Baltimore, MD
20 x 200– A Jen Bekman Project – ‘Radar’ limited edition – November 13 – New York, NY


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