Lost + Found
Tiger Strikes Asteroid LA
through March 3
Written by Shana Nys Dambrot
Between nature and not-sure, in “Lost + Found” four artists bend the dynamics of assemblage and found-object collage to serve their own narratives. While each artist employs a variation on familiar processes and techniques for sourcing the found materials from which they compose (thrift stores, personal/family archives, nature walks, craft stores), each operates with proprietary personal styles and intentions which yield eclectic, resonant results.
Erin Trefry deconstructs garments and accessories such as leather handbags, belts, and the like, some belonging to her mother, and reconfigures their skins and bones into almost tribal, anthropological specimens. The larger work presents like a bas-relief friezes, while the smaller is decidedly skull- or mask-like. Both are anatomical, in their arrangements of symmetry and skeleton; leather is already skin, wood is already a framing material, and as both are exposed, the larger work has more in common with cubism than what might be conventionally understood assemblage. It’s like a Louise Nevelson with zippers and fringe. In each piece, the richness of their tanned black tones while not paint yet reads as pigment.
Kyla Hansen’s assemblage practice belongs both to the scavenger-gatherer aesthetic of the desert, and to a perspective culled from eco-feminism. Her salvaged materials are specifically accrued to formulate ideas and images at the intersection of gender and landscape. Known for her industrial-tape geodes, which are perhaps more explicit in their nature/female body allegories, Hansen’s large-scale work at TSA speaks to a different kind of layering. The process of quilting is built on the artful arrangement of patterns made from scraps, to which Jansen adds other kinds of remnants and discarded things like stumps of wood, well-worn ceramics and roughly used color-field grounds. The concentric geometry of the quilted pattern echoes the caves of her geodes and all the vulvic stuff which that implies, but the act of quilting is also one of those womens-work tropes that could stand to be subverted.
Gloria Sanchez also deals with feminine idioms and particularly those from a matriarchal family culture. Her work is both more deeply personal and more overtly narrative than that of her show-mates; its structures by turn altar-like or evocative of a reliquary. She figuratively and quite literally weaves together autobiographical and cultural tradition and history, but augmented, interrupted and enriched in dialogue with natural forms as well. The larger of her two pieces is like a huge nest, its conical shape and tornado of form sweeps up within its fibrous walls dried kindling, pink ribbons, vintage photographs, dark plaits of hair, and the shimmer of gold dust. The smaller one is like a tiny hanging garden of neon-pink keepsakes, button cacti made from tufts of hair, bursting through a gridded wire cage like a nursery plank. While abstract in its organic forms and the artificial coloration of its polka-dot spray, from a distance it radiates the faint echoes of portraiture.
Clifford Eberly has constructed a single large-scale sculpture, attached to the floor and wall as though anchored, a site-responsive skeletal shelter, a web of tendrils and creeping vines on a tent-pole trellis. Every thread is simultaneously the load-bearing armature, the delicate thing itself, and the vessel for presenting the many tiny treasures knotted into its rope. The artist seems to be making a sort of slow-motion flowchart archive of important stuff he found along the way, woven together like a fractal conspiracy-theory dream-catcher of the everyday — a soft-sculpture sundial, a pagan knit-henge of shells, hair, plastic, ribbon, fine mesh and fabrics worthy of being a fabulous ceremonial garment and an altar rolled into one.
There is a further aspect of the performative to work made in the way, a quality conjured in the minds of the audiences who can’t help but imagine the previous lives of the repurposed materials. As curated by Stacy Wendt, the thoughtful selections tease out resonant elements between and among the four artists, while maintaining the unique voice of each, making a case for the diversity and strength of this genre. As the wonderment of the “what is it made of” mystery prompts audiences to pay closer attention to the “what is it now” presentation, they arrive at a more lingering and fuller experience that encompasses the artist’s process — finally imparting an appreciation for the beauty, power, and hidden storytelling potential of the allegedly unremarkable things we take for granted every day.
Tiger Strikes Asteroid LA
Bendix Building, 1206 Maple Ave. #523, Los Angeles.