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Narrative art mixes myth and history

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Freshman communications major Amelia Romo examines Andrea Chung’s work at the “Biomythography” reception Tuesday in the Harris Gallery. Chung uses materials significant to cultures and the nature of labor within those cultures. / photo by Claudia Ceja

Freshman communications major Amelia Romo examines Andrea Chung’s work at the “Biomythography” reception Tuesday in the Harris Gallery. Chung uses materials significant to cultures and the nature of labor within those cultures. / photo by Claudia Ceja

Jocelyn Arceo
Staff Writer

The University of La Verne held an artist panel on the works presented in “Biomythography: Reflexive Remix” Tuesday in the Harris Gallery.

The exhibit, curated by Chris Christion and Jessica Wimbley, featured works from artists Andrea Chung, Vanessa German, Todd Gray, Tarrah Krajnak and Suné Woods.

Biomythography is the weaving of myth, history and biography into a comprehensive and narrative form.

“It was really to contextualize how artists individual practices are using myth, biography and history as a conceptual means within their practice,” Wimbley said.

“We also apply it to how we can think about how artists are using remixing within their artistic practices, so, how are they pulling from different source materials and then remixing the content to create new works,” she said.

Both artists and curators want to move from the typically written art of history and mythology into more visual arts, Wimbley said.

The reflective remix aspect is simply taking fragments of art from original pieces to incorporate into new content, such as when a DJ creates new content out of samples from archived records.

“The idea is that the two are not whole until it’s completed by the audience,” said Christion.

Krajnak’s piece, where she took pages from Ansel Adams educational book and placed her own photography over his while also redacting much of the words in his text to replace them with her own meaning, was inspired by the mainstream photographer who she claims is a master of photography.

“He kind of transcends in a way. Even though he’s a very well-known modernist master, he’s also one of these very popular photographers who is embraced by all kinds of people,” Krajnak said. “I was thinking about these ideas of the modernist master and what that means.”

Her project is still ongoing, and she considers it to be fairly blunt and conceptual.

Everything is meant to be easily understood and accessible, similar to how accessible Adams’ photography is.

“Encountering the archive as a woman of color thinking ‘No I’m going to erase these technical terms’ and what’s left emerges my emotional reactions to his (Adams’) work and the more subjective experience,” Krajnak said.

German, typically a sculpture artist, uses her work as a way to save her own life and make sure that she is okay.

Her piece in the gallery represents the Black Madonna, where she painted four different versions of the goddess on white dinner plates.

She also created a 2D image using multiple mediums like sea shells, spoons, and multi-patterned fabric to form a woman.

“Inside of this work I’m trying to do several things: I’m trying to save my own life, I am, as an artist, pushing past a place of resistance, and I am listening to these places of spark,” German said.

Her artwork is full of symbolism, such as keys to symbolize both external and internal forgiveness, or mirrors used to bring the viewer into her work.

She pulls these symbols from her own archive of which she calls the technology of her soul, which is an emotional, intuitive place of creating out of intuition, history, and new information, said German.

“I am a part of this work. My story is inside of this work, it is for me. It is doing something real for me,” German said.

Aside from the archives within herself, she also collects many objects that she feels call to her.

The objects can be hundreds of spoons, boxes of old tea sets, or even a shopping cart full of AK-47 handles.

“I’m looking for material that speaks to this language, to the technology of my soul,” German said.

Woods’ work has an interest in movement and collaging, of which she pulls her inspiration from anything that sparks her interest.

She has a five-minute long film on display in the gallery titled “We Was Just Talking.”

“A lot of what I source is just likings that intrigue me, that I’m drawn to, that I question, that I’m fascinated by, that are disturbing to me,” said Woods. “I kind of approached video in that way too, collaging disparate things that I think form interesting relationships.”

The “Biomythography: Reflexive Remix” exhibit is on display through April 26.

Jocelyn Arceo can be reached at jocelyn.arceo@laverne.edu.

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