Connie Lane: Linear Amplitude
closed March 29
Michael Stearns Studio at the Loft, San Pedro
Written by Genie Davis
Connie Lane’s Linear Amplitude, which showed at Michael Stearns Studio at the Loft in San Pedro, is a haunting and ephemeral work. The artist evokes her own contemplative thoughts on belonging, memory, and being, as she summons up the past and its relationship to the present. The work is both meditative and ghostly, a stand-alone exhibition that is also inextricably linked to the performance piece Lane performed at the gallery on March 23rd.
Originally from Hong Kong, Lane’s performance is both an outgrowth and beautiful come-to-life moment for the exhibition. Clad in hooded garments constructed of paper sewing patterns that reflect and evoke the suspended artwork itself, a group of performers solemnly moved to the Loft building loading dock, where a portable fire pit glowed. There they burned Joss paper, with traditional golden foil in its center. The papers represent wealth or money, also called spirit money.
Titled Virtue of Respect, the performers in the piece were Andrea Serna, Ro Wenner, Sheila Lynch, Betsey Hall, Vicki Waller, Daal Praderas, Patricia Hyde, Connie Lane, and Michael Stearns. The performance was a heart-opening work that focused on paying respect and honoring the deceased, according to Lane. Along with the solemn processional to the fire, the performers also knelt in the gallery on cushions, clapping hands and bowing, and holding wooden blocks inscribed with wordings meant for the deceased as a way to pay respect to them. At the loading dock, the performers stood, folded the paper, bowed, and burned it.
“It is about paying respect, and honoring the deceased, and it does tie into my work in the installation,” Lane relates.
Both performance and art, Lane says were “borrowed from the idea of Chinese memorial services. I created this installation in memory of my mother. I missed her memorial service when I was here in the U.S, due to a visa problem. This installation and performance is my special tribute to her.”
The deep emotion behind both the visual and performance art creates a palpable presence.
According to Lane, “Through imagination, I have created work about Chinese memorial services based on my experience when I lived in Hong Kong. The center wall piece, an abstract sculptural image, references my mother wearing her favorite blouse with a Chinese frog closure. The anthropomorphic forms on each side of the wall references family members kneeling and bowing to her presence. The hanging clothing-forms references a crowd.”
The main medium of the installation is paper, including joss paper, bamboo paper, Japanese Kozo paper, crochet threads, sewing patterns, pins, and paint. Lane used stitching, dripping paint, and folding construction to create the exhibition.
“Traditionally in Chinese culture, joss paper folded in shape of an ingot, together with other paper items, like garments or daily appliances, are burned for the deceased to use, spend and wear in the afterlife,” she notes.
Lane says that her work at The Loft bears similarity to other installations she has created, and that with this and other projects such as Remembering, Bravura, and Living Cubicle, her focus is on evoking past memories while using materials inherent to Chinese culture. Each of these works also involves an interactive component with a viewing audience and the involvement of others in a performance of some type. And, she says the latest work also continues to explore the “abstracted anatomical essence of clothing forms, using materials like latex rubber, paper and mixed media.”
She describes Linear Amplitude as a deeply personal work, in which the installation came to her first, and evolved to include the concept of performance. “It has taken me years of thought and courage to use performance in my work. Through the performance, I want to introduce and share with the audience an aspect of Chinese culture, the ritual ceremony of honoring the deceased in a hope to make a connection with them emotionally and physically.”
The soft color woven within the paper used for the installation creates a dream-like quality, a sensation that was heightened with the performance, so that the hanging works seemed almost to come alive themselves. Visitors seem called upon to pay attention to the details, the textures of the papers, as they pass within the rustling forest of the work – a work of spirits, ghosts, and memories.
The spiritual quality of the exhibition is heightened by the shadows and light that shift within the gallery by day, bringing a sense of underwater – or underworld – shadows into the light. Viewing the work is an immersive experience, and Lane describes the installation as designed to “stimulate sensory perception with audience participation.”
The title itself speaks of the immersiveness: linear – a line, with amplitude magnifying that line, or in Lane’s case, magnifying her lineage, heritage, past, and it’s through-line to the future.