Randi Matushevitz and Diane Williams Confront Otherness Through Experience at LAAA/Gallery 825
through April 20th
By Genie Davis
Randi Matushevitz and Diane Williams both offer profoundly moving solo shows at LAA/Gallery 825.
Matushevitz’ Conundrum continues the artist’s powerful, growing, large scale work with an experiential installation of paintings and found objects. Here she addresses both personal and universal issues such as safety, otherness, and the disparity between the haves and have-nots. In bold and beautiful work, the artist references issues such as the working homeless, gun violence, and today’s highly fraught social and political environment. Matushevitz confronts tensions of anxiety and fear, engaging viewers in a discussion about the dichotomy in which safety, security, and entitlement work to hide disparity and inhumanity.
With INcongruence, Diane Williams continues her startling, extraordinary look at immigrant communities and xenophobia, here involving viewers as interactive participants in an installation consisting of eight large works made of wire and fibers, each of which references a personal history. The disparity of materials and textures themselves serve as a way to represent the diversity of our cultural heritage.
Williams and Matushevitz both tackle challenging subjects that are particularly prescient in today’s social and political environment. Both are visceral artists with bold palettes and each with something important to say.
Williams says “As a multidisciplinary artist, I tend to use different media and methodologies to explore issues about immigrants and gender. INcongruence deals specifically with xenophobia. Each piece I create is informed by previous work and that’s where the evolution comes from. I’m working simultaneously with two series: Monsters & Aliens and My America. Working with both opens more room for new ideas and experimentation. Coming from a drawing and painting background, I still think in terms of color, texture and lines, but the new work is definitely more focused on the concept rather than skill.” She adds “I would like to see the work extend beyond traditional settings; perhaps being involved in more community outreach where art and civics meet.”
Matushevitz tackles a different hot-button topic in Conundrum – the shameful homelessness issues in Los Angeles. “I originally envisioned Conundrum as an extension of Urban Dilemmas, where each artwork depicts a unique oddity that I experienced while driving my car around my neighborhood in Los Angeles.” But as she planned the paintings, she began to notice the growing number of homeless, reports of gun violence and the sense of uncertainty about American politics. “I decided to look deeper,” she explains. “Researching homelessness in Los Angeles, I was stunned by the information I was gathering, and also from observing homeless families and individuals around my neighborhood. It occurred to me that I was safely observing and learning about the largest homeless population in the U.S. I began to ask others if they noticed what I had,” she relates. “To my shock few had. I realized that we who have a place to live are short on empathy and equally vulnerable to an unknown future. I decided to create an experience instead of a presentation of paintings.”
Williams says that she hopes viewers will “formulate their own thoughts and feelings about the show by challenging them to consider their own immigrant status. We can be a part of a larger conversation as we all live in this society.” The artist knows that this can be difficult. “These conversations are tough but we can engage in these discussions in a safe and non-threatening environment. Although we are divided as a nation, we have more in common than we are often led to believe.”
Williams was inspired to create her work by the protest signs she’s seen on L.A. freeways, and by the roadside memorials created by people grieving for someone lost. “These are begging to be seen and understood. I created the modular pieces hanging on the ceiling and walls, operating as obstructions, confinement and disruptions to mirror the protest signs and roadside memorials. The polychromatic installations are an amalgamation of diverse textures and components, a reminder that diversity is what makes this country great,” she says. Her work is also a reminder of what makes great art – arresting, moving, and relatable.
Matushevitz says “Conundrum is an emotional experience that confronts the viewer with a dramatic displacement to point to the distance with which humanity is considered. Conundrum is an installation of paintings, tents, bricks, chain-link fence and whirling lights to point to the underbelly of our evolved society.” She describes these elements as “the things we don’t want to see, so we make them invisible. I selected bricks and fencing to point to barriers and boundaries in urban environments, marking who is kept in and who is out. Tents, illusionary and real, refer to illusions of home and safety. The seven paintings concentrate through open narrative on the fragility of human connectivity in a world of distanced engagement.”
According to Matshshevitz, “I want the viewer to walk away from Conundrum with much more than a call to attention of homelessness, I want them to walk away with a wake-up call to do better. To remember we live in an ‘us vs. them’ culture, and we don’t have to play into that mentality. One natural disaster and who knows, maybe we’ll all be homeless, out of work, and trying to figure it out.”
With work that’s consistently passionate and profound, Matsushevitz opens a conversation of vital content through her art.
In a way, both artists are tackling the same underlying thematic issues: our lack of inclusiveness, our fear, our reliance on exclusionary rhetoric. They are opening the gates of discourse and hope through works that are both visually arresting and viscerally exciting.
LAAA | Gallery 825 | 825 N. La Cienega Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90069 | 310.652.8272 | firstname.lastname@example.org