Final Round Up: Studio System 2
at Torrance Art Museum
By Lawrence Gipe
After spending the month of June creating work, the 12 artists participating in the Studio System 2 residency at the Torrance Art Museum displayed the results of their labors at a closing reception on June 30. It was this author’s pleasure and privilege to join this richly-varied group as an artist, and correspondent-at-large, reporting on their efforts for Art and Cake. Scroll down for the “Final Round-Up” of
Richardson enjoyed taking a break from the solitude of her studio to work in the “positive energy of a group environment” at Studio System. Her current series of sculptures, reflecting “a tongue-in-cheek power struggle between animals and people”, were painstakingly fashioned from wood, wire, foam rubber and fabric. She completed 4 of these labor-intensive pieces, depicting an irate flock of birds challenging a group of figures. This coming October, she will participate in a curated show at Castelli Art Space, and on early 2019, she will participate in museum shows at MOAH Lancaster.
Hailing from Beijing, artist Huo Youfeng labored constantly in his area on an installation called “Refuge”. He enjoyed being part of unique programming that “helped bring art into society”, and particularly liked when children took time to interact with the piece. “Refuge” changed every 2 or 3 days, through a process of destruction and re-building. Using hay-bales, Youfeng built “a house, a gate, a ruined wall, a castle, the tower of Babel, a tank…” – each part of the work pointed metaphorically and literally to a different type of shelter. During the last weeks, Youfeng back-dropped the entire space with a dramatic charcoal drawing scroll. In the end, he called it “a protest against authority, against brutal power and the distribution of that power and against the powers that ignore human nature”.
Feng Ling dedicated her space to a performance work called “Tranquil Transformation”; throughout June, she shared a tea ceremony dialogue with over 100 people. Ling chose the name, in her words, “because of the increasingly tense international situation and the need for good communication between cultures”. Participants in the piece slowed down their lives for a few minutes to sip tea, have conversation and make various notational marks on paper, and on the walls of the space.
Ling plans to take “Tranquil Transformation” on the road, to other cities and institutions including the Australian National Museum, the Boston Museum of Fine Art, and MOCA Bangkok, Thailand.
In Studio System, Garner began a project that had been a few years in the planning – a series of photographs dealing with “mass, physique, strength, and the status of the underdog.” In the work, the artist (who stands at 4’11” and weighs in at 95 pounds) positions herself as “a formidable, yet doubtful” opponent of bodybuilders that are 200 pounds heavier. Using the mythic David vs. Goliath duality, Garner’s photographs “challenges assumed power dynamics; the body of work aims to address how strength forms conceptions of self-hood and considerations of multi-layered sides to rivalry, opposition, and power”. Garner is currently participating in the ACRE Artist Residency in Steuben, Wisconsin, doing further research and planning for this project.
Waxman completed multiple drawings and ceramic works in his “studio as workshop”, with the conceptual goal of “creating/supporting what the British psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott termed a potential space -a place where one can develop and explore more complex mental states. It is when one is in this space that there is play, potential, and unknown possibilities.” On August 18th, he will be in a show curated by fellow Studio System artist Khang Bao Nguyen called “Dialectic of Being and Becoming” at 18th St. Art Center in Santa Monica.
Najarian’s favorite part of the Torrance residency “was the interaction with the public and having the space to air out new ideas in my work”. Often donning headphones as he worked, the painter spent the month going deeper into his “exploration of sound and color, specifically looking at the interactions between atonal musical compositions and its translation to color, shape, line and application of paint as a live act”. Najarian will have a solo exhibition of drawings and paintings called “Atonal Chromatics” at Rio Hondo College opening September 4th, 2018. He is also curating a show on the theme of Color for Cerritos College, where he teaches.
Jodi Bonassi set up a portrait painting studio in her space, inviting museum-goers to sit, chat and model for her dense and colorful compositions – “each visitor could choose to be included in any one of the paintings being worked on and even the choosing of the space for their inclusion”. Each painting developed depending on the collaborative choices made – with the ultimate goal of “letting go of ego and allowing energy to flow”. Each night, Bonassi worked on the panels after hours, incorporating the sketching of the day, finally completing seven tableaux. She has multiple group exhibitions coming up, including a July 31 “Kamikaze” at PØST and “Bread and Salt” at Hebrew Union College (2018-2019) curated by Anne Hromadka. An exhibition of her paintings from 1998 to the present, continues at The Museum of the San Fernando Valley through August 1, 2018.
As many of the artists noted, Chen found the month of commuting between downtown LA and the residency in Torrance “Intense, but I enjoyed every bit of it”. Chen continued a series of work “crocheting alloy wire with recycled materials, such as electrical wire and an array of electronic and computer components, into pieces of fabric that are shaped and combined with everyday objects into site-specific installations that address this information age…even with all this technology, man still has to grapple with the consequences of his human condition.” In August and September respectively, Chen has a solo exhibition called “I Ching in America 2.0” at Lancaster Museum of Art and History (MOAH), and a two-person show at Monterey Peninsula College Art Gallery.
Khang Bao Nguyen
Nguyen completed about 90% of his intricate painting goals. Drawing from a background in Eastern and Western philosophy, his work manifests balance and the dichotomies presented by these cultural themes. Nguyen says each painting reveals “the nature of dualistic perception and the awareness of totality”. His most current project is a group show called Dialectic of Being and Becoming, opening this Fall at Highways Performance Space/18th St Art Center (and includes Studio System alum Debby and Larry Kline, and Tyler Waxman).
Debby and Larry Kline
Conceptual power-couple Debby and Larry Kline worked on five different projects during SS2 including the crowd-pleasing Poor, Poor Artist, which asked the public for stock tips (the Klines had invested their $500 stipend from the residency into the market). Another, called Tiny Revolutions, is an on-going quotidian project of small graphite “acts of defiance” – drawn “small enough to remove from the frame and carry them in a pocket” – should the politics in the US prove so dire. Upcoming exhibitions include Beyond the Age of Reason at San Diego Art Institute featuring artists who contemplate how faith meshes with contemporary life; and DesEscondido/No Longer Hidden at California Center for the Arts Museum (September 29 – November 18, 2018), an exhibition of members of the artist’s group Public Address, will explore how things can be both obscured and visible in a city (Escondido) whose very name means “the hidden place.”
This author made two drawings for Studio Systems 2 this June, U.S. Nuclear Arsenal, 1959 and Titan Missile Launch, 1960. Both are directly sourced from archival material published at the height of the Cold War and were part of an overall project called Cold War, Hot Summer. The shapes in U.S. Nuclear Arsenal, 1959 originally accompanied detailed specifications of each missile in an “Illustrated Guide of Rockets and Missiles” and were the work of an anonymous designer. Detached from their original contexts, they form a line of “text” like an iconographic language. The reality of their deadliness is “flattened out” into a seductive representation, raising questions about the complicit relationship of authority and art. Upcoming projects include a solo show at the Paul Mahder Gallery in Healdsburg, CA and Transiting, a group show co-organized by Kio Griffith and John David O’Brien at the Arena One Gallery, Santa Monica, CA (July 27-Aug 18, 2018)
Tom Dunn liked the feedback from the general public, as well as his fellow artists, although he did “miss painting at night.” He completed ten works on paper, and the sweeping “Floating Downstream Triptych #1), based on “themes and ideas that evolve from the subconscious”. The wide swath of wall space allowed him to work on his first large scale triptych, and “being able to stand back and look at them from a distance” was a key benefit from the residency. In the coming year, Dunn is co-curating two shows for Durden and Ray (Nashville and Seattle) and is preparing for a group show at Noysky Projects in Hollywood for September.
Torrance Art Museum (TAM)