About four years ago, I began collecting and meticulously archiving objects, photos and videos from daily physical and digital life. In retrospect, this began as a coping mechanism for a continual struggle and theme in my work—societal overstimulation. Slowing down, taking remnants from the day and turning them into abstractions or vignettes, isolating their physical attributes and thoughtfully entering these notes into an archived database, seemed like an interesting and mind-quieting exercise.
The archive is non-linear and non-bureaucratic, as it has no parameters for collection and very few rules by which these items are to be cataloged. Junk mail, photo landscapes, mascara packaging, light patterns, photographs of paintings, descriptions of mental photographs, urban videos, stolen Facebook sunset posts—all can be archived into the database. The database takes a three-dimensional array of chaos, adds participants regardless of size or importance, and flattens them into a societal tableau. To date this tableau is made up of 3,166 unique items.
Items collected are also given an associated text which is boundless in nature, and need not pertain to the actual object; the story can be personal or political in nature, from my voice or taken from the public sphere like Google, Wikipedia, television commercials or excerpts of news stories.
Because I have physical attributes and associated texts that serve as data-points for the collected objects, I am able to use the capability of the computer database to execute search functions to display arrays of objects, thus giving myself new ways in which to form content. For example, I can initiate searches like “plastics,” “rainbows,” “Trump,” “racism,” “sadness,” “glee,” or “Tuesday”. Any time that word is used or the physical property associated, images of the collected items are returned in the search, creating a beautiful arrangement of conflicting imagery associated with a single idea.
Art to me is about transformation; transforming the object, transforming the artist, transforming the viewer. I am intrigued with the idea of converting an object into a symbol for an idea, and then further transforming the object into a new context. The work is open enough for the viewer to be able to connect their own personal associations, and hopefully have some sort of mental shift themselves.
The database is a tool as well as an inventory system for creating visual works, and with the near-limitless possibilities of computers I have near-endless directions I can take when initiating a new series. I have used the digital capabilities of the computer to create content going forwards, backwards and inside-out.
Using our societal objects as cultural specimens in a series of graphite drawings (2016), objects were chosen by selecting random search tags (“thank you,” “mesh/grid/pattern,” “holes”) and combining them visually with other objects in a single work (Image 18). Afterwards, assuming the role of anthropological linguist, poetic messages were extracted from their combined text. The edited text resembles redacted documents, and their exclusions become titles for the works, as in the first drawing, Arrows Thank You Valentine (this was subliminally “expensive”).
Utilizing homonyms, I created works using the sound-alike search terms “Here” and “Hear” (2017), letting the array of images returned serve as metaphor for the perception and misperception in our socio-political climate (Image 07, Image 17). Serendipitously, the computer is unable to differentiate between words like “here” and “where,” or “hear” and “heart,” and thus returns these images in the array as well. Further complicating, but contributing to the idea of misinterpretation is Here + Hear (Embed Video 1), which utilizes all the references in database to those two words. Further, I am interested in pushing the idea of painting by presenting these anachronistic works in inventive ways, as sculpture or object, and letting those contexts inform the work. Hanging in a net, these ideas are suspended together, unclear if the net is a mode of safety or suppression.
In an effort to truly use the collected objects as a hieroglyph, I began exploring the idea of making sentences out of the objects (2018). Thinking a lot about truth, perception and our ability as Americans to curate facts that coincide with our belief system, I began with Think/Believe (Image 02). To further push the painting presentation, I began introducing objects from the database in an effort to offer more possibilities for interpretation and to contribute to the conversation.
In a political time where we quickly dismiss the other side as “wrong,” I started to think about the ways I have been wrong in my own life, where I misperceived a situation whether it be visually, emotionally, or physically. Swimming Up To The Ocean Floor (Image 05) refers to a time I was body surfing and a wave flipped me to the point that I swam “up” for air and hit the sandy floor with my chin. Just Barely Touching (Image 06) refers to a professor I had in college who would repeatedly slightly brush against my breast when leaning over to review a paper, and while horrified, it never occurred to me to tell collegiate administrators or even confront his actions. It Broke Both Our Hearts (Image 04) refers to two separate conversations with loved ones where instead of having the tools to express properly that I was hurt, I inadvertently offended my loved ones and made them mad. In this series I purposefully began with an idea regarding a public and political phenomenon and tried to view it on a personal level, as I believe that in all times but particularly in this time, instead of solely pointing the finger at others we need to take a deep look at our own actions to be able to transform as a society.
In my current work using the individual database objects as hieroglyphics, every painting and drawing functions visually as well as conceptually as an individual piece, word or thought; one which can also be combined with other works to create new meanings. Pieces are sold individually not only as a means of being more democratic and accessible, but also in the way that if one is taken out of the combination, it can be replaced with a new piece to change the look and tone of the sequence. The idea that analog works can function dynamically much like the digital world, is a thrilling concept to me. Using digital processes to make analog works is also a nod to our current technological moment, where no matter how digitally forward we accelerate, I contend we will always desire aspects of life that are home-made, unique and inherently human.
As I continue to explore the combined items in the database in different conceptual ways, I keep thinking of the project as a digital version of the Akashic Record. According to a brief definition from Wikipedia, “In theosophy and anthroposophy, the Akashic records are a compendium of all human events, thoughts, words, emotions, and intent ever to have occurred in the past, present, or future.” As this non-linear archive seems to have connections with the idea of an overstimulated record of all the thoughts, words, feeling and images to have occurred, my intention is to install as many collected paintings and drawings together as possible to illustrate this concept (Image 19). An accompaniment to this analog presentation would be an automated digital video (currently in prototype phase), a program that rolls through the database presenting arrays of texts, images, video and sound at random; creating a visual dynamic artwork, made by a computer from items collected by a human, compiled into a computer.
MFA 1999 School of the Art Institute of Chicago
BFA 1995 San Francisco Art Institute
2018 MESSAGES, Citrus College Gallery, Glendora, CA
2016 ‘I SAID…*’,Campbell Hall School, Los Angeles [ THE QUIET ROAR ], boxoProjects, Joshua Tree
2019 CONNECTION COLLECTION, organized by Sydney Croskery at OPAF 2019
2018 SPECTER OF DOCUMENTATION, Durden and Ray, Los Angeles ORIGIN, Baik Art, Los Angeles GLITTER, Cactus Gallery, Los Angeles
2017 A MERE SUM OF PARTS, curated by Sydney Croskery, Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles
2016 CONSORT, ArtShare-LA, Los Angeles
2015 6H to 8B, curated by Sydney Croskery, Fellows of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
STUDIO SYSTEM, Torrance Art Museum, Torrance, CA
GALLERY TALLEY, Woman Made Gallery, Chicago
HONING PIGEON, Gallery Antenna, Kyoto, Japan
PRIMO LANE, Outpost Projects, Joshua Tree
LACE POP UP SHOP, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Hollywood
OLLY OLLY OXEN FREE, curated by Kristi Engle, Offramp Gallery, Pasadena
OH THE HUMANITY, curated by Kelly Thompson, Pomona Packing Plant, Pomona
MAS ATTACK, organized by Artra Curatorial, LA Mart, Los Angeles
UNFINISHED PAINTINGS, curated by Kristin Calabrese and Joshua Aster, LACE, Los Angeles
MDW ART FAIR, Sydney Croskery and Pamela Johnson, Portage Projects, Chicago
LA COSA NOSTRA, curated by Max Presneill and Grant Vetter, Gallerie Rheeway, Los Angeles
ZOMBIES: A MINDLESS AFFAIR, antena, Chicago
FAVORITE THIS!, Meridian Gallery, San Francisco
LAAGAFBLA08, LA Art Girls Art Fair Bienniele LA 2008, Phantom Galleries, Los Angeles
The Egg in On Procession , Parades and Street Pageantry, Indianapolis Museum of Art
BIG BANG AND OTHER ORIGINS, David Salow Gallery, Los Angeles
HYSTERIA DELUX, Angles Gallery, Santa Monica PAINTING’S EDGE, Riverside Art Museum, Riverside
LA ART SHOW, Raid Projects, Santa Monica Civic Center, Santa Monica
CONVERSATIONS, Sam Francis Gallery, Santa Monica
RAPID RESPONSE at 18th Street Gallery, Santa Monica
The Wiener Girls in Performance Week at the Jack Tilton Gallery, New York
A TASTE SENSATION 2, American Pop Culture Gallery, Nashville
A TASTE SENSATION, The Wiener Circle Hot Dog Stand, The Wiener Girls, Chicago
TEXTUALITY, G2, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago
THE BOSY SHOW, Purple Gallery, Los Angeles
THE NEWER LANGUAGE, Purple Gallery, Los Angeles
PSYCHIC, PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL BAGGAGE, The Luggage Store Gallery, San Francisco
SWEET LIKE SUGAR, STICKY LIKE BUBBLE GUM, The Luggage Store Gallery, San Francisco SNACKS, ACME Gallery, San Francisco
SQUARING THE CIRCLE, performances by the LA Art Girls, Llano del Rio Centennial, Lancaster, CA
I FEEL AS IF I HAVE TWO WOLVES FIGHTING…,by Stephanie Allespach with The Egg, LACE, LA
THE OUTPOST CUP, The Egg, sponsored by Outpost for Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
ARTXPOSIUM, Wiener Girls Performance, West Chicago
4TH ANNUAL DEITCH ART PARADE, Wiener Girls Performance Deitch Projects, New York
OVERFLOW, A reinvention of Kaprow’s Fluids by The LA Art Girls, Getty Museum, Los Angeles
3RD ANNUAL DEITCH ART PARADE, Wiener Girls Performance, Deitch Projects, New York
3RD ANNUAL DEITCH ART PARADE, The Egg, Deitch Projects, New York
BOYS 4 GIRLS, LA Art Girls, OutFest Auction, Los Angeles
FLUXWEAR EVENT, LA Art Girls, LACE, Los Angeles
TOTAL ART PERFORMACE EVENT, LA Art Girls, The Getty Museum, Los Angeles 2nd
ANNUAL DEITCH ART PARADE, The Egg Performance, Deitch Projects, New York
THE WIENER WORKOUT, The Wiener Girls, Jack Tilton Gallery, New York
Pollock-Krasner Grant, 2018
Curator’s Lab Award – Fellows of Contemporary Art, 2015
Studio System Residency, Torrance Art Museum, 2015
Painting’s Edge Residency, Idyllwild, CA 2006
REVIEWS AND BIBLOGRAPHY
fullBlede issue 4 and 5
Peripheral Vision- Salon 08
On Procession – The Egg at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Catalog
Time Out New York – Marching Madness, by Howard Halle, 2008
The Indianapolis Star – April 27, 2008
Bikini Magazine – Oscar (Meyer)- Worthy Performance by Scott Sterling, February 1999
Projector Magazine – Visual Art Exhibition and Lunch, by Grant Samuelson, October 1998
Juxtapoz Magazine – in the Beatdown, December 1998
D’Art International – Interview by Steve Rockwell, December 1998