Susan Amorde: In My Case at the Los Angeles Art Association
By Genie Davis
Through June 2nd
Susan Amorde’s In My Case, now at the Los Angeles Arts Association/Gallery 825, is a collection of new and recent mixed media sculptural works and installations. Using vintage suitcases as the framework, Amorde traverses emotional depths on a journey of self-discovery for viewers.
Riffing quite wonderfully on the idea of emotional and physical baggage, the Los Angeles-based artist uses her travel cases to represent a wide spectrum of psychological, historical, and social ideas. The choice of using these specific suitcases in and of themselves creates a rich and mysterious world. We travel through life, we take journeys of self-discovery and of hedonism, we venture down new roads, move residences, store old memories, bring home souvenirs from our travels, carry what we think we need, trek the globe, or visit family and friends. We are emotionally always on the move, the artist suggests, yet freighted with the weight of our past, with the objects and demands of our present lives.
Amorde’s “Baggage Station” takes a large group of vintage cases and organizes them on wooden shelves. We do not see the content in the bags in this large sculptural work, rather, the viewer is invited to wonder what’s inside these 50 cases. This substantial work manages to evoke a fragility in its antique baggage; a sensation in viewing the placement of the bags and their styles – from overnight bags to large suitcases, that inside may hold hopes, dreams, loss, and even loneliness that’s been left by the wayside. They contain whatever we want them to contain, they evoke whatever we want them to evoke. Likewise, the artist’s vertical installation/sculpture, “Block and Tackle,” does not allow us to look inside the four cases suspended from the ceiling by a kind of Rube Goldberg pulley held by an anchor. In this piece, it is easy to imagine the metaphorical baggage of a lifetime attempting to float away, but being tied to the ground by the anchor of our own hearts. The artist appears to be asking viewers just what they have tethered in their own emotional closets.
Amorde’s individual cases such as “It’s Time,” feature metal porthole through which we can view scenes created of brass and sand and water, featuring small talismans that evoke the idea of a captured memory or emotion. “Drowning in Indecision” is a similar work. Both are beautiful, like frozen aquarium views. You may see an hour glass and a chain against a fuchsia backdrop or a small notebook violently speared with a fish hook against dark blue and green, an image that conjures up a journal of pain or a memory best forgotten yet impossible to forget. “Wounded Baggage” continues the idea of painful emotional baggage, with a framed suitcase studded with arrows that appear to be bloodied.
In the rear of the exhibition in a separate nook, a sign on the wall indicates “Excess Baggage,” but the title of the piece is “Route 66.” Here are trunks and cases left behind, scattered in corners, loosely stacked as if tossed carelessly aside, but with a central piece draped in chains and anchored to the floor.
An interesting aspect of Amorde’s art is that some of these cases literally seem light, glowing from within, appearing as if one could lift them easily and cathartically to examine the symbolic contents inside. Others both literally and figuratively – anchored, weighted, struck with arrows – appear impossible to hoist and equally impossible to abandon.
The exhibition runs through June 2nd. Gallery 825 is located 825 N. La Cienega Blvd. in West Hollywood.