Landskin: The art of recycling

The Landskin exhibition at the Brand Library Art Galleries in Glendale is a collective effort by four artists who explore through sculpture, painting, and printmaking, organic and artificial environments.

The artists, Sophia Allison, Autumn Harrision, Li'n Lee and Jaime Ursic, have recycled materials that have had some relationship to the environment, either positive or negative, and form new creations, some with organic roots and reality, and some with plastic (inorganic) materials and imagination.

The exhibition is loaded with curiosities from Allison's cardboard tesserae sculptures that resemble geological landforms, to Harrison's street debris bubbles. The artists are so synchronized in their sensibilities that the exhibition is completely fluid with a few exceptions. The subtlety of Ursic's work did not read as well by contrast to the scale, color and complexity of her fellow exhibitors. It unfortunately disappears next to the drama in the gallery.

Lee's imaginary coastlines and latex ocean currents are energetic and fantastical. The artist's painted sculptures depict mythical places. In an untitled piece the irregularity of a fantasy coastline is mimicked by the puzzle piece shaped cut of the finished piece.

Lee's ground is plywood under linoleum, over which the artist runs leftover latex house paints, which swirl and blend into current-like shapes that resemble a perspective from space. Lee sculpts dried latex paint into textures that build layers over the pseudo landform, which becomes interpretive and topological. It is a wonderful way to use paint that communicates the artist's inspiration.

Allison is expansive. She manipulates a variety of papers—cardboard, foam core, watercolor paper and packaging materials, by stitching, gluing, painting, cutting, tearing and combining. Allison's work is quite intelligent, engineered and varied. She brings out the versatility of paper that reflects real world usage of paper products.

Her background in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina inspired her series titled "Blue Ridge." Shaped cardboard squares are pieced together around foam core structures that become abstractions of the mountain ranges from her childhood home. Sentiment, good engineering and memory culminate in Allison's sculptured imagined geography.

By contrast, her less dimensional piece titled "Barkpeelcamoflage" is a collection of stitched together papers and packaging materials that provide an organic palette of contrasting color, reds, browns and grays. As the title indicates the effect is somewhat like a camouflage pattern. Paper can be disguised many ways and is an extraordinarily versatile medium that Allison manipulates well. Her work is genuine and the highlight of the exhibition.

Harrison's Float Tether pieces are formed around a stick structure, an interior scaffolding of sorts, which supports a skin, pieced together using scraps of sheet plastic and debris collected from an urban environment. The recycled result is a colorful bubble-like sculpture that piques interest as bits of recognizable product wrappings hint at former uses. They are fragile-looking, which may hint at some deeper message behind the debris bubble. Harrison's contribution to the exhibition is dynamic.

Ursic's monoprint, ink and watercolor pieces are described by the artist as important for the process used to produce the site map-like works. Square units are assembled to represent a personal interpretation of microcosmic elements of places she has visited.

Because of the "personal" experience during creation along with scale and limited variety, Ursic's work does not exhibit well. It has great depth and value to the artist as it should, but does not contribute well to the dynamism of Landskin, the exhibition. This body of work would fare better paired with poetic expressions by the artist about the emotion and psychology of the process. That would be an interesting experience for the viewer/reader.

Landskin is an effective collection of artistic explorations into interactions between the artists and the use and reuse of materials as it applies to land and the environment. It is a fun, interesting and enlightening exhibition.

TERRI MARTIN is an art historian, artist, and art critic.

INFOBOX

What: Landskin

When: noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday through Sept. 24

Where: Brand Library Art Galleries, 1601 W. Mountain St., Glendale

Cost: Free

Contact: (818) 548-2051 or visit www.brandlibrary.org.

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