PEPPERDINE UNIVERSITY PROJECT SPACE
For Immediate Release
Image credit: Shanna Waddell, Sheness study of Bonnard’s Study Photo, Ink and Collage on Paper
A Very Long Moment:
A UCPLA Blank Canvas 8 Exhibition
May 6, 2021
Pepperdine University Project Space
Artists: Gretchen Batcheller, Chris Brown, John Emison, Yvette Gellis, Christina Ker, Peggy Pownall, Ty Pownall, Dale Riley, Joe Suzuki, Shanna Waddell Colbert
Curated by Gretchen Batcheller and Ty Pownall
Pandemic, war, riots, unemployment – the world in 1918. Egon Shiele visited Gustav Klimt on his deathbed to draw his body, distorted from Spanish Flu. Shiele’s wife, Edith, died shortly after and was followed by Shiele himself, three days later. Edvard Munch painted himself during and after his time with the deadly disease. Others reflected on the meaninglessness and chance of it all, forming groups like the Dadaists. The Bauhaus founders couldn’t wait to move beyond the times and focused on making the future. We wonder now, what can we learn from this past and what will endure into the future?
Drawing from what has been and looking towards what could be, the artists in A Very Long Moment: A UCPLA Blank Canvas Exhibition are firmly responding to their present reality with the frankness of Shiele, the randomness of Dada, and the precision of the Bauhaus.
Artist Shanna Waddell Colbert triggers thoughts of an historical infinity mirror with her study of Pierre Bonnard’s 1901 study of his wife, Marthe. Bonnard, a member of the Les Nabis, or “Prophets”, group, considered intimate moments to have a transcendental ability. Waddell gives us stacked intimacy, perhaps pressurizing the transcendental likelihood.
With a 2004 Louisiana Purchase nickel and an FDR dime at an eternal standoff, John Emison’s
coins embedded in a stone become part of the fossil record, referencing a timeline stretching long before and far beyond us. Emison, when asked where these specific coins came from said, “It’s what was in my pocket when I had the idea! But yeah, can’t avoid super charged meaning with currency. The Louisiana Purchase was the start of the “Indian Removal” and the use of courts to question and overthrow Indigenous sovereignty, so the continued use of that symbol in a 2004 nickel is pretty insane. FDR is looking at it like... what?? A viewer within the sculpture’s mis en scene. Little plaques, memorials, for better or worse.”
Chris Brown, with his work Three Philosopher depicts a familiar, typically interior, “what am I doing here” conversation via paraphrased philosophy quotes. Glitchy in their multi-headed and handed poses, the speakers in this thought bubbled scene make their cases for how to live by mixing and matching existentialist claims - all seeming to nearly talk themselves out of their own reasoning.
The world after 1918 looked different and never went back to what had been normal. In considering the past and looking to the future, all of the artists in A Very Long Moment are sitting with their present and preparing us for the future.