Kyla Hansen’s The Trouble With Goodness
Five Car Garage, Santa Monica
through March 1st
Written by Sydney Walters
Kyla Hansen’s exhibit at Five Car Garage delves into the complexity of form, function, feminism and rebellion. Holding these elements together is a deep seeded reverence for the “thingness” of something and bestowing extravagant virtue onto simple objects. Upholding the tradition of quilt making, Kyla’s wall pieces are crafted like irregular abstract paintings rather than long rectangles. The sewn shapes create a soft ribbing of thread as the fabric is pulled in gentle waves. Hansen uses bold blocks of colors and, like a melting Mondrian, they cast lush illusions of fields and roads and letters.
Hansen grew up in rural Nevada. When it came to quilt making, Hansen says, “My mom sewed a lot of our clothes growing up and always has had a closet full of fabrics…quilts were being made all the time around me growing up.” Quilting is steeped in a history birthed out of necessity, thrift and comfort. However, it is and was irrefutably regarded as woman’s work. The tiles of Hansen’s work prove that these soft sculptures pack a feminist punch. Both humorous and delightfully raw, “Hot Slit” and “Bleed Until We Are Even” delivers a thoughtful consideration between words and work.
On the ground is the sculpture “Deep Seed”. Curving beige tubes create a garden fence that supports several bird figurines. Hansen experimented with firing the ceramic figurines to achieve different mottled and melting effects. “With this piece I wanted to take imagery and objects that create a sense of safety, stability, security, then deconstruct, reorganize, and see what happens. I wanted to create something that felt precarious, with the visual language of stability,” says Hansen. “Fences generally create both a sense of safety and a sense of fear or anxiety of the “other” or “outside.” Ceramic birds seemed like a really great material to include in this piece because they pointed to mid-century domestic life, which had a similar false sense of safety mixed with anxieties. I figured I could melt them to visually reinforce this idea through material instability ie. melting clay. I also liked that they were an accessible item that middle to lower class people collected as artwork.”
Because Hansen readily uses found objects in her work, she is accustomed to conversations about sentimentality and meaning. On this topic she commented: “I think about my work not as BEING nostalgic or sentimental, but BEING ABOUT nostalgia or sentimentality. These objects give a layered history of a specific “place” in time. I love found objects for their specific histories and realities which we construct for them through associative meanings, nostalgia, mythologies, memories, class etc. I expect those things to be a present part of the sculpture they become. Specific material has specific meaning. I see a comparison with the way objects move back and forth between being inanimate, and imbued with meaning, and the way letter forms in my quilts move back and forth between being abstract and narrative. Objects and text in my work are both slippery in that way.” Trouble With Goodness is a delicious exploration of how experimentation, risk and reassignment coax ingenious ideas into the art world.