Sunday, July 31, 2011

Engaging Environments

Jiayi Young, Shih-Wen Young, M. Azevedo,
7.9 M2, post-consumer materials, flour, paint,
2-channel audio, visualized sound, 2011
Chaotic Consumers

Designed to resemble 85 square feet of living space, 7.9 M2 is a collaborative installation on display at Axis Gallery, where post-consumer products were used to reconstruct a single-family home from Shanghai, China. The multi-media exhibition designed by artist/physicist couple Jiayi Young and Shih-Wen Young along with collaborator M. Azevedo, brings to the fore the social and environmental issues of a voracious consumer society.

Jiayi Young reproduces from memory the apartment where she lived with her parents as a child. By piecing together product packaging, the configuration is limited to two beds, a small table with two chairs, and a study area with shelves. A blue marker on the ground delineates the dimensions of the confined space. Disturbingly, the arrangement disrupts our expectations of lifestyle and underscores the over production of waste.
7.9 M2, (detail)

A sound visualizer projected onto the middle of the room magnifies our experience. By weaving sound clips from a 50s and 60s film produced by the US Department of Energy, a late-night commercial, and sci-fi sound effects, the omniscient narrator and spiraling waves produces a hypnotic trance. The collaborators aimed for the installation to “examine energy consumption and generation,” resulting in evidence of a carbon footprint of devastating proportions. Even the crude rainbow leaves a dreary sign of hope.


The exhibition Clusterfucks and Countryfolks of the work by Melinda and Melissa Arendt at Bows & Arrows continues the polarized argument between rural and urban environments.

Nostalgia for a more rural living plays out in the woodblocks by Melinda Arendt. The distinct hatch marks of carving with and against the grain of woodblocks compliments Melinda’s subject. However, these images are presented in a pre-packaged format, a rehashing of Warhol’s Campbell Soup Cans, such as in her print of banjos, steins, and rockers.

Melissa Arendt, Layered Landscape 1, oil and pencil on
wood panel, 2011
The paintings by Melissa Arendt updates the binary discussion of environments by utilizing contemporary iconography fused together with clustered motifs. Layered Landscape 1 is a comparative contrast of glaciers and skyscrapers. Melissa developed as a unifying motif what appears as cellular clusters reminiscent of DNA, calling to mind the underlying organic structure shared amongst living organisms.
Nathan Cordero, Untitled, wooden
door panel, 2008


Nathan Cordero’s solo exhibition titled Are you destined to become your mother? at the Nelson Gallery brings together a prolific body of work predominantly from 2011. Cordero meshes the everyday in all aspects of his art—from object to subject. His primary material is found wood (door panels, plywood, etc.), which Cordero then reconstitutes into an aesthetic arrangement distinctly his own, forged relentlessly and continues to refine.

An example of his earlier work can be viewed in the 79” x 32” untitled, wooden door panel from 2008. A dense composition of staggered bottles in which to search for referents to memories and ruminations: playing cards, question marks, a pistol, Cordero in Old English lettering. The jagged, thinning panel is reinforced for a continuation of the delirious dream, simultaneously violent and delicate.

Nathan Cordero, Five Things, found wood, 2011
He is openly honest with his contemplations of common vices: cigarettes, alcohol, sex. He uses a language of his own, from simplified graphics to coded messages that reference the everyday. Works from 2011 give evidence of technical growth and refinement as seen in Five Things. Cordero demonstrates his mastered skill in carving intricate lines in unconventional supports. The simplified forms iconographic of his craft, sit pronounced within a void, imbuing the banal objects with an exquisite quality.

The 15" x 45" untitled, found wood and mixed media from 2011 is a formal investigation of his medium by stripping away at the found material, baring its raw processed fabric. Cordero reveals the splintering and jagged characteristics of the grain that he in turn constructs into an engaging, minimalist composition. Cordero delights his viewer with the flexibility and breadth of creativity that is reworked into what was once discarded.

Nathan Cordero, Untitled, found
wood and mixed media, 2011
Untitled, (detail)