Alicia Piller’s Writhing Sculptures Carry Honesty, Anxiety and Promise
Lowell Ryan Projects, Los Angeles
through December 21
Written by Sydney Walters
The pieces in Alicia Piller’s solo exhibition at Lowell Ryan Projects are snapshots of contorting and robust organisms revealing close links in conversation with violence, trauma and death. But through her skillful handling of dozens of materials, Spirit of The Times radiates a prevailing and colorful impression of resilience.
Piller’s extensive materials list includes latex balloons, resin, digital prints, shells, beads, straws, yard, leather, and many more. She braids, weaves and ties these materials seamlessly together into cumbersome sculptures that may resemble a towering ribcage shorn together with digital photographs of tragic headlines in the news in Across the wasteland, a twisted melody. Matter and spirit or perhaps intricately adorning a mask in Spirit of the Future. Her biomorphic forms expand and contract into vortexes and black holes laced by painterly patterns and textures.
In “Deep Space to Navigate. States of magic”, green and pink balloons hover half deflated over a form reminiscent of a child’s play table. Blue yarn pulls and connects the front of the table to the back. Digital prints with bright purple borders are propped up like tiny houses or ships navigating a swirling multicolored sea sprinkled with shells. The wrinkled balloons and digital prints of nature on the table exude anxiety of the ephemeral.
In “Nature of a stately being. Outstretched arms, bursting with newborn stars”, a prominent mass of green netting, plastic bags and dried plants among the material jumble towers along the back wall of the gallery. Hot pink latex defies its malleable nature as glassy resin beads drip off the sides of its contours. Thick white latex balloons woven at the center acts like a spinal column connecting every muscular tissue to the core. This piece cascades off the wall, falling onto the floor amidst rolls of green plastic netting. This netting, as well as other uses of recycled material and disposable plastic is pivotal in Piller’s work. The exhibition is wrought with anxiety about the over-consumption and decay of the environment. It is woven efficiently into structures to encourage visitors to examine the delicate labyrinth of forms and textures.
One such piece requiring a close examination is “America Herself. Music of fragments. Void of course”. Dozens of tiny photo slides are affixed to a form resembling a warrior’s breastplate. The metal lined slides are like glints of chain mail protruding out from a darker beaded pattern holding the rest of the sculpture together. It is an assemblage piece luxuriating on the nostalgia of the pastoral landscape as image after image depicts the negative of nature tied to the sculpture and falling off of it in dramatic fringe.
A spirit is understood to exist in living things, having no physical body itself. For Piller, the spirit resides not only in the component parts of a physical creature, but also in the making as a thing becomes infused and charged with history and when it is released and gratifyingly exposed for exhibition.