The Atkinson Gallery at Santa Barbara City College is pleased to present “Planet Earth,” a group exhibition by three artists — Sarah Rosalena Brady, Mark Churchill and Vanessa Wallace-Gonzales — who integrate different concepts of land in their work. The word “land” can have many implications. As a noun, it can refer to territory, soil, rural areas, real estate, as well as nations, provinces and kingdoms. As a verb, it can mean to alight, dock, moor or touch down as well as to bring on, settle, acquire or inflict. Of course, the antonym of land is sea, and the title of the show is inspired by our planet’s serendipitous combination of both these elements along with atmosphere, air and sky. As we desperately search and yearn for solutions to the ongoing climate crisis, the fear and uncertainty created leads us to look both inward and outward for answers. And as we look to other places within our current reach such as the moon or Mars for resolutions it is important to remember and embrace the absolute habitat we already have at hand as a lesson to our past and inevitable futures. All three artists in Planet Earth explore these themes in their work in unique and compelling ways.
Sarah Rosalena Brady’s work deconstructs technology with material interventions, creating new narratives for hybrid objects that speak on issues such as AI, digital craft and decolonial posthumanism. Hybrids function between human/nonhuman, ancient/future, handmade/autonomous to override power structures rooted in colonialism. They collapse binaries and borders, creating new epistemologies between Earth and Space. Her most recent work includes ABOVE BELOW, a series of textiles woven on Jacquard looms programmed to create weavings based on satellite imagery of the icy Martian landscapes captured by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter surveying the planet’s atmosphere since 2006. Brady paired these double sided tactile topographical maps with traditionally constructed but futuristic looking coiled 3-D printed ceramics made from synthetic Martian soil. In the series Transposing a Form Brady mutates contemporary technologies with Indigenous traditions to suggest that other planetary lands and their enigmatic histories are not necessarily a blank slate ready to be absorbed and solve our terrestrial problems.
Mark Churchill is inspired by traditional Korean and Japanese ceramic craftsmanship as well as the rich history of Southern California ceramics. His hand-made stoneware and porcelain is supplemented by adding local earthenware and ash to create unique textural effects. By creating slips and glazes from local organic materials and using multiple firings so that each piece retains a unique textural effect, Churchill strives to create work that is both functional and soulful. In his purely sculptural work on view at the Atkinson Gallery the glazes are made from scratch and incorporate local materials, such as red clay sourced from Ojai, California, combined with ash from oak and pine. After the glaze is applied, the work is fired to 2,340 degrees. At this temperature, the clay itself becomes vitrified so that even the unglazed areas are impervious to water. The glazes become fluid and fuse with the clay, and the oxygen starved flames surround the work providing warmth and depth.
Vanessa Wallace-Gonzales uses layers of organic materials foraged from the land combined with transparent and painted paper to create her vibrant collages, sculptures and installations. Insects, flowers, stones, leaves, shells and bones are integrated into figurative works that are often self-referential, investigating inward and outward concepts of identity, myth and paradigm. Her creations often have an ethereal but rugged quality suggestive of skin-like masks dialoguing with bodily figures. Recently she has experimented with incorporating smell, taste and performance in her work. Wallace-Gonzales continues to broaden her use of materials and techniques to use body language, distortion and metaphor to explore selfhood and will incorporate cyanotype fabric into a site responsive installation at the Atkinson Gallery.
The Atkinson Gallery, Santa Barbara City College Art Department's showcase for the visual arts is located in the Humanities Building, Room 202, on the East Campus of Santa Barbara City College, 721 Cliff Drive, Santa Barbara, CA 93109.
For more information contact:
John Connelly, Atkinson Gallery Director
Santa Barbara City College
(805) 965 – 0581 x 3484