You’re Invited to Virginia’s House
By Genie Davis
Artist Susan Feldman is building a house. In her studio. And not just any house, but Virginia’s Open House. From 1-5 p.m. November 4th and 5th, the artist is inviting viewers to explore her interpretation of a house that long fascinated her.
Over the course of 20 years visiting her best friend, Feldman was intrigued by the “old little house” next door. She knew only that an elderly woman lived there alone. Two years ago, when the woman passed away, she found the house in the process of demolition. She collected pieces of the house’s wood, shot photographs of the demolition, brought the found objects back to her studio with her images, and was driven to create. She’s now incorporated all the materials she gathered into one installation in her studio – and is having her open house to present the work.
Feldman says she wants viewers to know one thing above all else about the installation – “It was sooooo much fun to make,” she enthuses.
“The idea came to me as a way to display and show the wall works I had created using the wood and imagery from Virginia’s house. I felt they would show well within this context. I also loved that I told myself and was okay with this rule: don’t worry about how to get this out of my studio, just build it.”
Now that she has built it – will everyone come?
“Funny, once I started posting some pics of what I was doing, a lot of my artist friends asked me, How are you going to show it? What are you going to do? How will you move it? I thought, Wow, they’re really worried about it! Then it hit me to have an open house right here.”
Despite the amount of material involved, Feldman says she didn’t find the process of transporting her found objects too onerous.
“At the time of my collecting I had a smaller studio. I had thought about building her house there and then, but space didn’t allow for it. So, I made smaller wall works instead, using pieces of her wood along with combining photo images I had taken. Once I moved up to my larger studio two floors up about a year ago, I dragged all my stuff up in the freight elevator. Not too difficult…”
At that point, Feldman still didn’t know she going to build Virginia’s house, but she didn’t want to let go of the wood and other materials.
The artist says she loves walking into the structure she’s created. “I feel a real sense of inclusion within the work. I also feel like I am channeling Virginia and that I get to interpret her however I feel is right.”
In point of fact, “Virginia” was really named “Florence.”
“In many ways it’s a mix of real life and fantasy, I like that aspect,” Feldman says.
Feeling grateful that Virginia has allowed the artist to channel her and her home, Feldman says she’s sorry she never personally met her, but feels as if she now knows her so well, and that being in her recreated house brings her great joy.
“I am naturally, fervently attracted to ‘tear-downs.’ Something about the framing of a house/building is so alluring to me. Looks like sculpture in the making/destroying,” she relates. “For some unknown reason, I was always attracted to this house and the mystery I created around Virginia. There was nothing special about it, just a vibe I felt. Seeing it opened-up, splayed like a carcass, I just had to jump in and grab the wood and take the pictures. I do this often, but this time it felt like I had to capture, literally, parts of her.”
Come for a visit. Virginia’s Open House is located in Studio 4J at the Beacon Arts Building at 808 N. La Brea Ave, Inglewood from 1-5 both Saturday and Sunday.