PLETHORA is a collaborative performance work by three female artists: New York-based performance artist Lia Chavez; and Los Angeles-based painter Linnea Spransy and sculptor Maggie Hazen. “During the course of Plethora, vacant space will become a complex installation art piece via small repetitions, endurance performance and hidden activity.” The cumulative exhibit is on view August 15- 30, at Soapbox Gallery in Brooklyn.
Plethora brings together the presence of three complex women and their artistic production. Throughout the duration of the exhibit objects will be added, illustrations will grow, and all three artists will spend significant time within the white cube and interior gallery space. Mingled together, the result of intertwined efforts is something akin to a fairy-tale pop-up book, a battle ground, and a kind of vigil.
I was so honored, this week, by the opportunity to glimpse their physical (and thoughtful) processes.
Like many women, their paths have been informed by the presence (and absence) of other women. Their models range from canonical artists, teachers, authors, philosophers, and bold political figures. Lia, Linnea, and Maggie have developed distinct practices through personal moments of curiosity, creative prowess, and through collaborative interactivity, such as Plethora.
Below are some of their own words.
Who is a female artist who has influenced or inspired you?
It’s a tie between Hildegard of Bingen, Hilma af Klint and Emma Kunz. They each embraced the daunting challenge of translating the ineffability of interior vision into art in innovative ways for their time.
What is your earliest memory of connecting with a work of art?
Growing up with a mother who is a painter, I can’t recall a time when art was absent from my life. But when I encountered Chagall’s “The Blue Fiddler“, I knew even at 5 years old that the artist’s path was for me.
What would you be if not an artist?
A deep-sea explorer or an astronaut.
What is on the horizon for you? Project-wise?
I’m currently developing an ecological performance expedition, entitled Material Dispersion, in which I will journey to the seven great seas to create site-responsive art works which investigate the purification and renewal of the world’s oceans. I launched the performance in Venice, Italy earlier this summer and plan to visit five of the seven seas before the year’s end.
Do you have a dream project if you had unlimited resources/possibilities?
Yes, too many to mention…a plethora, if you will! But the one that is currently on my radar is addressing the ecological crisis in our oceans through the remarkable alchemy of art.
Is it fair for me to cite an author? Truth be told, there simply haven’t been any significant female visual artists who have had formative impact on my work or the way that I think. Why this might be is another (vast and sometimes sad) topic… perhaps for another day. And so, the question you pose brings to mind a young, somewhat cavalier Lit professor, who, slapped a fresh copy of “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek” on desk and told me that Annie Dillard would teach me how to see.
No painting, drawing or design professor ever opened my eyes as wide as that softcover book did. The next four years certainly were valuable, but the double-edged sword of wonder – in all it’s terror and irresistible attraction – was driven deep by Annie Dillard.
I owe her a great debt for helping to slay my sentiment and narcissism, which, I would argue, the truly great artists have done. To be able to do so for other artists is the work of genius – genius that is generous, whose work forms a legacy.
I believe that Pilgrim at Tinker Creek qualifies as such. In my life at least.
My uncle made furniture occasionally, and when my siblings and I were still young, he made unique bunk beds for us that were designed like Swedish built-in beds – in other words, they were like cozy rooms, personal nooks with shelves, hooks for hanging things and crannies for the things children hide. Best of all, every surface was incised with wood-burnt landscapes; rivers, mountains, forests all stylishly scarred into the walls of my personal cave.
Many nights I fell to sleep pondering the peculiarity of picture-making, how a tree once alive can bear the funerary image of its once vital state. Of course, no child has the words yet to articulate these strange states of being, but I remember how the quiet moments before sleep allowed me to feel the finer texture of life, till, after deep sleep, the hurly-burly of play-ground enthusiasms swallowed my six year old attention span once again.
[I’d like to be] so many things! That, I suspect, is exactly why I am an artist.
I would probably have enjoyed singing more or being musically focused; I love history; anthropology and sociology are my amateur hobbies; design is natural to me; I come from a family where architects appear periodically and I certainly share that fascination; science is great fun, though I am most attracted to it’s fringes; biology mesmerizes me.
All of these things are too much for any single life time. There is nothing for it, I simply had to be an artist – an element, perhaps the only element, in society that is granted permission for cross-cultural, cross-discipline osmosis.
Collaboration has been a bit of a revelation in my studio practice, so I am already planning other ‘Plethora-like’ projects for next year. The remainder of the year has a few shows in it as well, mostly around LA, where I work.
If resources or realism were not a limit, I would make drawings with clouds.
Just think about that for a moment….
One of my female influences is not necessarily an artist but political leader Aung San Suu Kyi; Burmese opposition politician and chairperson of the National League for Democracy in Burma. I have not been known to interact much with current political climates, but Aung San Suu Kyi’s presence and involvement in the current state of Burmese governmental affairs is not only shifting the role of women in government but her role speaks to the necessity of female leadership. In 1990 the Burmese military refused to recognize her electoral victory of the pro-democracy party. Five years later, when she was released from house arrest, she was still firm in her demands: real democracy, freedom for political prisoners, an end to government by fear.
I have connected with art as far back as I can remember and have always been influenced by many of the great masters. However, my father took me to France when I was 13, it was there I first met the exterior of the Pompidou which prompted an instantaneously attraction, with its steel superstructure, reinforced concrete floors and it’s inside-out interface. There was something in that moment where my approach to viewing architectural structures and contemporary art began to make sense. Maybe something aligned with the way I think or maybe it was just the fact that I like the busy hidden networks which support architectural structures-a bone structure of sorts.
Well, if I wasn’t an artist I probably would have found myself in areas of study concerning archeology. Uncovering layers of hidden meaning found in cultures which existed millions of years ago, deciphering and translating artifacts. The past always shapes the present and, at times, can dramatically redefine the way we see ourselves and our place in the larger timeline. We are very small.
I have recently received a grant from the City of Pasadena to work on an individual project involving my investigation of time in relation to causality and connection. I will be building a series of steel structures reminiscent of Rube Goldberg apparatuses.
Given an unlimited budget, team and materials I would essentially take over an abandoned high rise building and spend the rest of my life working on creating miniature worlds from room to room using any and everything I can find to build. I would like it to be a notable destination, almost like a landmark containing a life time of work.
PLETHORA is happening NOW, through AUGUST 30
There will be a Reception, This Saturday, AUGUST 24, 6PM-8PM
PLETHORA’s Closing Panel will be Friday, AUGUST 30, 6-9, and will include the artists as well as guest specialists, Jamie Lauren Zimmerman of Meditation Medicine, the artist and Andy Warhol Superstar ULTRA VIOET, and an Arts Editor for WSJ.
* Due to overwhelming interest in Friday’s art salon, we have decided to move the location of it, and guests must RSVP at the following link: http://event.pingg.com/