Jillith Moniz Curates Four Women, an Exhibition Inspired by their Experiences of Los Angeles
Through October 21
By Genie Davis
Nina Simone’s song Four Women inspired the exhibition by the same name in DTLA. The women featured in this powerful and gracious exhibition curated by Jillith Moniz of Quotidian are Magdalena Suarez Frimkess, Veda B Kaya, Kyungmi Shin, and Charisse Pearlina Weston.
Moniz explains that in the song, “Simone describes four different types of black women who live different lives, but all experience the world as black women.”
She relates “I was thinking about that concept in art, and so brought together four women from different parts of the world – Venezuela, South Korea, Turkey/Amsterdam, and the U.S. – but who investigate architecture in their art practices. I wanted different modalities of art as well: sculpture, painting, photo collage, and one that merges the three. So, I have four divergent perspectives on the same focus, by four women from around the world who have come to call LA their artistic and communal home.”
From that premise, Moniz has structured an exhibition that allows viewers to wander/explore the varieties of form, culture, and locations that the exhibition represents.
She chose her artists carefully. Moniz says she was a fan of Suarez Frimkess “since I first saw Diana Zlotnick’s collection of her work in 2007. I fell in love with Kyungmi Shin’s photo-based practice at her show in DTLA that same year. I was born in Turkey, and Veda Kaya and I bonded about our shared experience. My father’s favorite place was the Blue Mosque in Istanbul and the motif of the Blue Mosque is foundational to Kaya’s painting. My friend and colleague Dr. Bridget Cooks, Chair of Black Studies at UCI, introduced me to Weston’s work when I was describing the show I was building around the Simone song. It was serendipity, because Weston creates sculpture, photographs it, prints the photos on large canvases, then uses the glass elements from the sculpture to redact the surface of the canvas, creating a painting.”
She adds that “Her investigation of architecture is physical and cultural. She is building community and carving out a place for herself with the motifs in her work.”
Suarez Frimkess’ beautiful ceramic pots were created with her husband, Michael. Created in the ‘80s and ‘90s, works which offer rich examinations of the artists’ inner world and outer environment. Some pieces feature floral images, others socio-political ones; their form literally and figuratively holds meaning. They’re vessels of artistic light. Suarez Frimkess’ work mixes pre-Columbian, colonial, ancient Chinese, and local cultural motifs; experiences which Moniz says make room for “border crossers” such as Shin, Kaya, Weston, and Moniz herself.
Kaya is a meticulous, powerful painter. She uses precisely and deeply felt motifs to create patterns that are immersive for viewers. She notes that her work reflects her own contemplation of “our relationship with cosmos, microcosm and macrocosm, interdependence and interconnectedness and sacred geometry.” After the presidential election, she says she could not bring herself to use color in her paintings, and created the black and white series Kalachakra/Wheel of Time. Recently, she says she wanted to have fun in the studio, and with that came the “renewed optimism” of her piece “Super Nova/My Summer Fling.” She explains she’d had no intention of showing the painting until Moniz viewed it at a studio visit and insisted she include it. “I am thrilled that she did,” Kaya remarks.
The motifs derived from Istanbul’s Blue Mosque that inhabit her work are comparable for her to “music in its ability to convey emotions and ideas without relying on recognizable forms…it also reflects the metaphor of Indra’s Jewel Net in eastern thought that I had embraced earlier in my life. It is my intention to capture the resonance of the immaterial with light, color and movement.”
Shin offers large-scale photo collages that seethe with life and light; here she shapes an almost transcendent view of immigration and the environment. The human landscape is as potent as the geographic; and together they are one. Born in South Korea, the artist splits her time between two divergent physical landscapes: Los Angeles and Ghana. The mutability of her images may reflect the dichotomy between her home locations.
Weston’s global travels have infused her sense of both the strength and fragility of black identity and rootedness. At Quotidian, she exhibits abstracted framings of sculptures and installations that she created in a variety of locations. The different work and the different locales in which she’s displayed it serves as the hub to the spokes of the other exhibiting artists’ creative wheelhouse: as the exhibition statement notes, sculpture, painting, and place-making are each elements of her work, and of the exhibition overall.
Moniz adds “As with all my exhibitions, I want people to realize the diverse and innovative work coming from LA. Whether I am looking at self-taught artists, or negative space in sculpture, or women’s perspective on architecture — or what Umar Rashid refers to as ‘black boy joy,’ I want people to understand that LA gives artists the license to push boundaries, explore emotions, and develop new and unique visual languages making local art communities rich, broad and deep,” she attests. “I am invested in supporting local artists, building community with them by highlighting and documenting their work, particularly as LA solidifies its place on the world stage and our institutions look outside of LA for inspiration.”
This exhibition is a tribute to Los Angeles and to the ability for diverse artists living here to explore in a variety of media, and map their own artistic trajectory.
Running through October 21st, this is a smart, sharp, revelatory show in which the artworks themselves are beautifully presented and complimentary of each other; they reveal a deeper layer that relates to a landscape both internal and physically external.
FOUR WOMEN is Quotidian’s third exhibition at 410 S Spring St in Downtown LA.
Gallery hours; Tuesdays – Saturdays 12 – 5p