All the King’s Men
closed March 24
Shoebox Projects, Los Angeles
Written by Genie Davis
The fragility of life on this planet has never been more abundantly apparent. From environmental abuses to those of human rights, our current socio-political and natural world feels ready to burst apart at the seams. With that in mind, mixed media artist and painter Nurit Avesar, and sculptural and mixed media artist Susan T. Kurland, have crafted a collaborative and interactive exhibition that examines our personal, political, and geological breaking points.
The exhibition concluded with a reception at Shoebox Projects on March 24th, but its relevance is hardly over.
Both allegory and symbol, eggs make the perfect material to shape the large scale installation piece that beautifully conveyed the tenuous nature of our existence. The artists describe their use of eggs as designed to carry the message that “we are all the king’s men, we are all the king’s people. We are all part of the solution.”
Kurland works in a wide range of tactile materials, from ceramics and encaustic, to printmaking, fiber arts and sculpture, including found objects and hand-made textiles. The Los Angeles-based artist says the exhibition, and the pair’s collaboration was, as Kurland puts it, “part of an on-going discussion about the results from the last national election. We see there is a fragile state of some of our Constitutional rights, amendments and laws, that once altered will be difficult to repair or replace. For me what is important is to get people to think. To consider what is happening and how we all can work together, regardless of political persuasion. Is this attitude/way of thinking sustainable?”
The center installation in the Shoebox Projects show is the standout in terms of collaboration, and its central focus. Both artists also presented a variety of separate works, but agree that their favorite element of the show was the walk-in installation they created together. “We had different ideas of how we would do it, and it has morphed into what is now its shape and layers,” Kurland attests.
Avesar adds “It is so wonderful to visualize an idea and see it come together the way you envisioned it. It is unique and wonderful to have a dialogue between two artists that work in different mediums, but share the same sensibility. It also makes the exhibition more interesting for the viewers,” she says. “The idea behind the interactive installation is a bit complicated. I hope we can clearly communicate our intention, that all of us need to take action to preserve fragile causes, such as our environment and democracy.”
Originally from Israel, but now based in LA, Avesar notes that the pair have long wanted to create a true collaborative installation together, but both artists have exhibited together in a variety of shows. “Among them are shows in The Brand Library and Gallery, CSUDH, and Keystone Art Space. In a way, we grew together in our artistic expression. Collaboration and working together is very natural for us.”
Kurland concurs. “The first time our work was shown together was our grad school art show. We were across the room from each other. There was a conversation going on between our pieces. There is still a conversation going on.”
And quite a conversation it is: walking through the installation, stepping on egg shells, breaking them – it’s an interactive experience that makes the viewer a deliberate participant in the art. The installation features long, sheer panels that the viewer/participant parts like a curtain. After pulling an “issue card” from a large collection of them near the exhibition’s entrance, on which are typed issues such as “polluting ocean, rivers, and lakes” or “mass shootings,” participants then walk through the shimmery, sheer textile panels and pluck a tightly rolled dollar bill from an egg shell, which causes the shell to fall to the ground and break. Gallerist Kristine Schomaker calls the experience of walking on discarded money and egg fragments “cathartic.” It as if one were crushing the problems of our time beneath the foot.
Individual works, such as the eight small, square encaustic and mixed media pieces created by Kurland that form a grid on one wall, seem to emphasize the sense of creation out of unlikely elements; even Avesar’s brilliantly colored painted work hung across the room from Kurland’s grouped pieces offers a visceral image that seems to explode from the vibrant colors and intense abstract composition. Creation is not an easy process, either artistically or in terms of the solutions we need to preserve our futures.
Both of the artists individual works in the front gallery space can be viewed through the beautiful distortion of the fabric panels of the main installation, creating a sense of the illusory and the permanent: things we can pass through, work to change, and then from that change, create our own self-realized, better world.
The textile components remind the viewer of the attachment of weaving, of spider webs, of the ways in which we are all linked, all culpable, all connected. One could generalize about the fabric of life, of what binds us to this planet; one can also see clearly the f preciousness of these binds, how easy it is to break those connections, how one must work to forge them and strive for solutions to the painful issues facing us today.
Sometimes to make an omelet – or save the world – one must simply break the eggs – or at least, the shells.
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