This past weekend I had the pleasure of going to an art show hosted at UCLA’s Hillel. The showcase presented two collections that will be on display for the next few months that tell two very different stories. One tells the story of discomfort and sadness while the other tells the story of immigration.
The first pieces are by Mark Strickland and are titled, “Between Heaven and Hell Fears and Desires.” It’s a beautifully vast collection that gives us just a glimpse into some of Strickland’s best work. They span from 1980 to 2010 and consist of oil paints on a variety of surfaces like wood, canvas, and paper.
Strickland describes his inspirations as coming from “the state of hopelessness and neglect experienced and communicated through the collective unconscious by sufferers of our perpetual global human crises.” His work focuses on making people acknowledge the discomfort others feel and express, as opposed to ignoring it. He wants to force people to see darker emotions and to observe things other than sheer happiness.
One of my personal favorites is titled, “Waging Peace.” It portrays a child creating a shadowed dove with her hands that is supposed to embody peace, while the earth is resting on her chest with the Middle East pointing towards the viewer. A weeping mother and father are on each side holding doves as well, to help symbolize the problems going on in that area of the world and their hope for justice for the families who are suffering. Eerie, stretching bodies can be seen crawling up the sides of the main figures and is a common occurrence in many of his other paintings. It’s an intriguingly unique detail that I immediately loved and gave the work more depth by adding another story within.
The second collection is by Susan Cooper and is titled, “Story Line: A Family History from Poland to USA.” It features a broad expansion of places and things that Cooper connects with her family. “Story Line” is exactly that: a storyline of her loved ones stretching from the 17th century to her life now.
Cooper’s largest piece that is being displayed at Hillel depicts the growing nature of her extended family through what appears to be small carvings of different objects, memories, and places she either lived through or had passed down. It ranges from the house her grandparents built in 1906 in Poland to the home she grew up in in Los Angeles, and ends with a place in France that she stayed at for an art residency. She describes her work as, “combining two- and three- dimension.” She continues, “combining the two affords the opportunity to build illusion out of objects and objects out of the painting.” She spends her time making work that circles around daily lives, time and place, and the art of nature. Some of my favorite pieces in the collection are of her grandma’s first car in the US, multiple places throughout UC Berkeley, and Hudson Street where her daughter lives.
The two exhibits are opposites because they show two very different sides of daily human lives. Strickland forces us to see the side where we’ll risk feeling discomfort by having to witness it, and Cooper shows us her life from start to finish and gives the viewer a satisfying feeling of ease watching the story of a young woman’s family unfold. Both exhibits are running from now until March 20th, 2020, and you can visit the gallery Monday – Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.