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Both Directions At Once

Review: Both Directions at Once @ Kala by Barbara Morris

Kala is excited to host an evening gallery talk with Kala Fellowship Artists Yuki Maruyama, Robert Minervini and Golbanou Moghaddas on Thursday, September 20, 7PM. 

Kala Gallery is proud to present Both Directions at Once, featuring new work by 2017-2018 Kala Fellowship artists. The exhibition includes Jennifer Basile, Rachel Livedalen, Yuki Maruyama, JoAnne McFarland, Robert Minervini, Golbanou Moghaddas, Lorena Guadalupe Molina, and Tyler Starr. Kala Fellowships are awarded annually to a group of innovative artists working in printmaking, photography, painting/drawing, installation, video, and mixed media. Fellowship artists are selected from a competitive field of applicants from around the globe. This cohort of Fellowship artists was selected by a Kala Committee and two guest jurors: Jamil Hellu, Fellowship Alumni and Sage Perrott, arts professional and Adjunct Professor at Utah State University.

Artists in Both Directions at Once examine cultural and personal identities, immigration and racial struggles, preservation of nature and the environment, and the human desire to attain utopian states, in their unique spatial and visual perspectives. The title of the exhibition is inspired by multiple sources, the John Coltrane album recently found and released this year, Both Directions at Once, the song It’s Only a Paper Moon, and novel 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. On an opening page of 1Q84, there is a quote from the song:

“It’s a Barnum and Bailey world, Just as phony as it can be, But it wouldn’t be make-believe, If you believed in me”
It’s Only a Paper Moon

Our life is influenced by illusion and delusion. We experience many things in everyday life and create our own interpretations to form both personal and community identities. This process goes in both directions: on one level each person creates their own personality, yet, once the communal standard is established, that creates labels for a person to embrace, defy, or something in between. As the 1Q84 story suggests, the power of illusion also goes in both directions: creating a positive energy to believe in our own illusions, belief and love, and on the other hand, delusions can be used to influence people creating insecurity, confusion, a sense of superiority, and inspiring fear.

Eight artists in the exhibition Both Directions at Once, explore personal struggles and present diverse viewpoints. As John Coltrane said to saxophonist Wayne Shorter in the late ‘50s, “…about starting a sentence in the middle, and then going to the beginning and the end of it at the same time… both directions at once.“ (from the album’s liner notes), artists can move freely as they wish through their creative process posing critical questions to themselves and to our community.

Jennifer Basile’s work explores our surrounding landscapes. Through her journeys and hikes, she learns about the locations and collects her subject matter. She creates immersive relief and woodblock printmaking work that envelops viewers providing a sense of escape to nature and its beauty, and inspires the audience to preserve our ever-changing environment before it gets destroyed permanently.

Reflecting experience of her adolescence during 1990s Girl Power and its emphasis on kitsch femininity, Rachel Livedalen playfully questions representation of women in contemporary society. Using imagery from Grecco-Roman artifacts and elements derived from contemporary girl culture aesthetics – cursive letters made of stars, sticker shapes, and bright colors, she creates her unique sketch board like installation combining traditional printmaking techniques intaglio, screenprint, monoprint, and drawing, stencil and vinyl stickers.

Yuki Maruyama presents a site-specific installation that explores the effect of binocular rivalry as experienced through anaglyph 3D glasses. To the bare eye, her red and cyan drawings produce a dynamic retinal experience of their own. When viewed through a pair of analog 3D glasses, the works flicker between two- and three-dimensions. The parts cannot be resolved as a complete whole creating the result of an electric and vertiginous internal tension that is simultaneously bodily and psychological, anxious and euphoric.

As an artist, poet and curator, JoAnne McFarland believes that “words are the most powerful things in human societies… I respect each utterance’s ability to be part of a path, to elucidate what we can achieve together, and to mitigate damaging experiences.” Reflecting this belief, Joanne presents two works, My Broken French, a scroll depicting a poem from her book, Identifying the Body, and Fugitive Deck, a mixed media installation. The word fugitive refers to the double meaning “the indomitable human drive toward freedom, and the way caustic labels for African Americans can be stripped of their ability to destroy the spirit.”

Robert Minervini’s work examines spatial environments and notions of utopia in large-scale landscapes, cityscapes, and still-life arrangements. Utilizing elements from art history, science fiction, and his surroundings in California, Robert refers to places both real and imagined. During his residency at Kala he combined the screenprinting process with paint layering process – hand painting, airbrushing, spray painting, and complex stenciling. The varied materiality and textual quality on his painting surfaces create an allusion to reality of the subject and scenes depicted.

For Both Directions At Once, Golbanou Moghaddas creates an installation using etchings and mural painting. She invites the viewer to follow her lyrical and personal narratives. Inspired by Persian miniatures and manuscripts, the content in her work is enriched by metaphors of philosophy, poetry, existential beliefs and personal perceptions. She embraces significant moments in her life and tells stories as she etches the images onto each plate.

Through her video work, Lorena Guadalupe Molina seeks her cultural roots. Growing up during the Civil War in El Salvador and moving to the US at the age of fourteen, Lorena explores intimacy, identity, pain, and how we perceive the suffering of others. In her performance videos, she asks questions: “How do we hold on to our cultural roots as everywhere we go demands adaptation and assimilation? How do we keep the core of our identity when surrounded by people who don’t speak the same language, eat the same food, etc?”

Combining research, direct observation and poetic associations, Tyler Starr visualizes political and social conundrums. Using digital and traditional printmaking methods, he created a series of mixed-media works on paper during his residency at Kala. Tyler is interested in the ways printed information maps human endeavors. This new series is a survey of human efforts to create transcendent structures including the architecture of Christiania, UFO schematics, sinking naval vessels and liturgical vessels.


Tours of the Kala studio, gallery and print-and-media study center are also available by appointment. For more information, contact Mayumi Hamanaka, Gallery Director, mayumi@kala.org or (510) 841-7000 ex 201.