IN THE BEGINNING Origins of life on Earth from mythic to scientific
El Camino College Art Gallery
Curator: Susanna Meiers
Artists: Phoebe Barnum, Joyce Dallal and Naima White, Satoe Fukushima, Lauren Kasmer, Peter Liashkov, Yvette Mangual, Nancy Mozur, James Murray, Victor Raphael and Clayton Spada, Nancy Romero, Vojislav Radovanovic, Frank J. Williams
August 27-September 20, 2018
The preliminary words of the Hebrew Bible, Book of Genesis are: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. This exhibition intends to examine thoughts about initial origins of life on earth through the works of fifteen visual artists. Did we slither up from the mud? Did we spring from the head of the Father? Did the initial Big Bang explode nothingness into something-ness? Approaches to this timeless subject are unique and varied according to individual beliefs, cultures and life experiences. Several artists in this exhibition offer images from diverse and ancient creation myths in which divinities rule and pandemonium is imminent while others ponder Big Bang Theory as a cosmological model for the universe. Some incorporate human physical conception and birth into their imagery while others center on a broad scientific view of the ascent of man as a species. All attempt to comprehend the emergence of form from chaos. Whether one addresses the beginning of life on earth biologically, geologically, metaphorically or mythically, the topic is complex, rich and eternal. The supposition that there was a beginning is brought into question as well as awareness of the ongoing nature of change –whether that transformation is the development of an individual, geological formation or vast expansion of the cosmos. The element of change is ceaseless and ongoing. Phoebe Barnum presents Cracked Earth, an installation made from clay shards, that refers to the initial phases of life on earth as well as the progress of global warming. Additionally she exhibits clay masks and objects that mimic early Inuit culture. Mother and daughter team, Mama Dotta /Joyce Dallal and Naima White present a viewer participatory tent installation with video, in which the viewer enters into a womblike experience. Satoe Fukushima exhibits an altered dictionary in which she references the importance of the use of words through the crossing out of portions of each definition. Lauren Kasmer presents Creation, a mixed media video installation that focuses on her relationship to nature and her personal meditation practice while referencing physics as well as metaphysical tenets. Peter Liashkov exhibits large-scale paintings/drawings of human coupling and conception, in which “Primordial sludge, shaped into totems.. witness inexorably the stubborn mystery of procreation.” (PL) Yvette Mangual shows detailed ink drawings on paper of mythological scenes of idyllic early life on earth. Nancy Mozur exhibits pastel on paper images that portray creation myths- the serpent, Shin, who guards the cosmic egg and a representation of the emergence of Eve. James Murray exhibits paintings of geologic formations, exploring the ancient and ever-changing face of this planet. Murray also shows small 2D works that reference early Native American rock drawings (Petroglyphs) Pierre Picot presents narrow canvas strips (Wampum Belts) with painted abstract geometric glyphs/shapes, representing the emergence of language. These images stem from Picot’s proximity (he lives in a forest) to the verticality of the immediate landscape. Victor Raphael and Clayton Spada exhibit three digital prints from their collaborative series, From Zero to Infinity, in which they investigate scientific theory coupled with spiritual tenets from multiple cultures. Nancy Romero presents a series of small paintings that explore a number of creation stories from multiple cultures. Additionally she shows individual works dealing with the story of Adam and Eve and the Peaceable Kingdom. Vojislav Radovanovic exhibits fanciful drawings in which he explores the simultaneity of the waking and sleeping states of consciousness experienced by man-melding man and monkey, politics and dreams. His piece is a free floating sheer panel on which he has mounted cut-out images, to be viewed from both sides. Frank J. Williams presents a series of small enamel paintings on corrugated cardboard in which a human figure is recessed in an intense abstract ground. The figure progresses from slumped, knuckle-dragging and simian to erect and humanoid, perhaps, depicting the ascent of man and/or the journey of the individual in life itself.