Community is What the Art World is About!


Guests, 2005, Silver plated stainless steel, variable dimensions

Art of the twenty first century the Los Angeles edition is chock full of controversial ideas. Each artists, in their own way, had their opinion is certain aspects of life. Which is completely understandable. However, which they all share different ideas, they all also share commonalty amongst one another. Communities is what the art world is about – this is what they all share. Without the world around us, people, places, and things, there wouldn’t be any art to create. To them, they would be deprived of ideas of how to express what they want to. Nevertheless, each of these four artists have something they want to share to us as the viewer.

Diana Thater, for one, is interested in the relationship between images of space and time. She loves taking pictures and videos of the natural world and the relationship between us and animals. In her piece, gorillagorillagorilla, one is confronted with the western lowland gorillas of Cameroon’s Mefou National Park reserve. She filmed these gorillas in three ways – gorillas in science, gorillas free and then gorillas imprisons (the way they really are). This piece is questioning how we know animals and how it is delivered to us in these ways. She wants us to find different ways to think through living and different ways to construct power. How do we thinking about the natural world in a way that doesn’t destroy it. It is interesting that she says she is also afraid of animals but that’s what she loves about what she does. She says she is not an adventure, but this is something, to her, that she HAS to do. Thater believes all artists want to change the world, at least she hopes all of them do and if there is anyplace that we can imagine another world, is through art literature and video.

Liz Larner is a sculpture that loves to, obviously, work with clay. She uses this medium because she’s fascinated by how it is, at first, flimsy and unstable and then eventually dries out, fired into a kiln and becomes hard and stable. Sculpture is the most physical form of art, while still while still being able to retain this aspect of poetry. To Larner, the physical reality of the instability is something that we all have to deal with and that’s what her works of art have to deal with. She loves being an artist because she can change her mind anytime she wants and to her, that’s what makes art, art. She also doesn’t tell people what to think about her art. Larner gives people something to think about that is not spelled out but comes from the physical itself. Her piece called the Guests is super interesting because it’s the movable piece that can have almost anything done to it, and it still goes back to its original form. It doesn’t get in a bind or tangled in itself. She wants the ideas about what is happening physically to be what the art is about. When creating her pieces, Larner try’s not to use the same methods but instead try’s to use the same ideas. She doesn’t want to keep using the same techniques because she doesn’t want it to become permanent, that’s why she keeps changing them. She doesn’t want anything to become stable or etched. Being an artist shouldn’t become too much about production, but something that you want to do. Something where you can take a break from art, look back and reflect about everything.

Tala Madani is truly inspired by everything around her, like the previous artists, as well as by her ethnicity and background too. What first inspired her was the iconic smiley. I think she said it was because it doesn’t have a nose that really pulled her in. However, while she uses the smiley, she only paints men and she says that she does this because she curious about them. She also paints these men in funny, satirical ways. She paints with an uncontrolled, free, loose fun way to embrace not just the image but their painted attitude for pure life, joy and freedom of the image. Larner is a difficult artist for me to talk about because the things that she paints are really out there. They’re fun to look at, but they are hard for me to connect with. She really challenges the viewer with her pieces, that’s for sure!

Edgar Acreneaux is another controversial artists who focuses on the black community, mostly. He is truly passionate about it, too. To him the power of what art is, is its unruliness and that art is not inherently good or bad but it is contradictory. Growing up he was always told stories from his mom on how he looked just like his grandfather, who was an artist as well. For awhile he struggled with how he could be just like another person who was no longer alive and not him, as well. Once he came to the realization of how he could be just like this other person and be himself as well, art became something he is passionate about. He loves drawing because it is not only a technique but also a methodology too. It is a way of thinking about of how we make connections between things. He is constantly trying to figure out how to talk about big ideas but through images that are somewhat familiar. However, the thing that he wants to talk about is not always necessarily within the image either. His piece a Library of Black Lies is controversial because it shows the uncertainty of life, and how that uncertainty is something that you can never get rid of. To him, that is where innovation comes from – uncertainty, the sense of the unknown. Another one of his pieces that ties the ideal of knowledge and power is, A Book and a Medal deals with Martin Luther King. It was a letter that MLK received basically telling him that he should kill himself and to stop what he was doing. Race and slavery is integrated into a lot of his works. Edgar wants to produce troubling juxtapositions between knowledge and power.

It is amazing, and interesting to see how all of these artists can live in LA but draw completely different inspiration from this city. Some take into account their backgrounds, and some just the surroundings around them. All of their art, too, is completely different from each other with ideas, concepts, and methods of portraying their works of art. While their works and meanings behind their pieces are different, their thought process behind it is similar. They, in their own way, believe that nature and knowledge is power – this is what binds them together. While they come from different aspects of life, they come together with this common idea. The way each of these artists has different meaning behind their pieces, whether you can identify it or not, inspires me to want to incorporate more meaning into my pieces of art, instead of just doing art for art sake.  It just goes to show you, that no matter your background, there is always a way to inspire people – each of these artists sure did!

-Chelsea Joffrion


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