Exhibition conceptualizes language through chairs

Two Claremont residents sit on an art piece at the "This Is Not a Chair" exhibit at the Claremont Museum of Art on Saturday. The exhibit is on display at the Claremont Museum of Art located 200 W. First Street in the Claremont Depot, Fridays through Sunday noon to 4 p.m. / photo by Christopher Rodriguez
Two Claremont residents sit on an art piece at the “This Is Not a Chair” exhibit at the Claremont Museum of Art on Saturday. The exhibit is on display at the Claremont Museum of Art located 200 W. First Street in the Claremont Depot, Fridays through Sunday noon to 4 p.m. / photo by Christopher Rodriguez

Kamila K. De La Fuente
LV Life Editor

The Claremont Lewis Museum of Art had visitors on the edge of their seats with its latest exhibition, “This is not a chair,” illuminating the work of over 20 artists from the 1960s to the present, of what it means to be a chair.

During the opening reception Saturday, where all kinds of guests from all different backgrounds and art mediums were invited to sit in their thoughts in a carefully crafted space. 

Located in the Historic Claremont Depot, “This is not a chair,” showcased the multifaceted nature of the concept of ‘chairness’, exploring the boundaries between language, concept, and meaning. 

The show drew inspiration from Rene Margritte’s painting “The Treachery of Images,” an illustration of a pipe accompanied by the French statement “This is not a pipe,” embodying the similar inquisitive nature of perception through the form of furniture. 

Seth Pringle, associate director of exhibitions and collections and curator, wanted to play with that same dissonance between representation and language to create an exhibit that explores the theme in a playful way. 

“What’s fascinating is that the chair is such an ancient form, thousands of years old, but there’s still a kind of endless potential for innovation and new ways of seeing the chair,” Pringle said. 

His intent was to feature a vast range of functional furniture makers, painters, as well as conceptual artists, showcasing how the different pieces and artists speak to each other. 

“Furniture is really about creating space for social interaction,” Pringle said. 

In the far end of the exhibit, two urban hardwood pieces catch the eye. One of which is a wooden stool, with cream and brunette blended wood on display. 

Lauren Verdugo, who uses they/them pronouns, is the queer, non-binary, Latine artist and furniture maker behind the artwork. The most dominant factors that influence their work is personal history with the mid-century craft movement. 

“A chair is a stand-in for a human being, they all have personalities,” Verdugo said. 

The Southern California-based artist believes it is important to consider multiple perspectives across the board because everyone has a story and if the narrative is not diverse, there is not much of a story to tell. 

They said biggest highlight was getting recognition in this venue and in the community they grew up in, alongside Sam Maloof, two of their professors and mentor Larry White. 

“Chairs are important because you’re making a conscious effort to live with these objects in your life,” Verdugo said. “There’s a conspiracy of objects that hold power and that they say a lot about who we are and our style, and how they affect our lives.”

In the constant flux of people flowing in and out of the venue, is Xochilt Vargas, Museum associate, snapping pictures for social media and marketing. 

Her highlight was being able to integrate into a community of artists that are intrinsically unique to the area, as well as creating their promotional content. 

She said readers have something to look forward to as the museum expands with a larger number of artists, as well as diversity in terms of race, class and sex. 

“The museum is meant to pull artists from Claremont, but we’re also trying to tap into a younger, more relevant generation,” Vargas said. 

The next exhibit will focus on psychedelia art: “Phil Dike: A Bird’s Eye View” from Sept. 6 through Nov. 24, and “The Garcia Collection of Chicanx Art” from Dec. 6 to March 23, 2025. 

Thea Whitaker, the museum data based archivist at the Claremont Lewis Museum of Art, spoke about how her position has given her a unique opportunity to talk to many artists from the local art scene.

“I think we want people to come in once a month and really experience the art and community and start to get to know art lovers in the community,” Whitaker said. 

She said the museum is actively working this year to bring more quality programming and exhibitions, in hopes of drawing more people.

Kelly Latona, resident of Upland, found about the exhibit from the museum’s mailing list.

“It’s visually stimulating,” Latona said. “It broadens your mind and opens your mind to new ideas and experiences.”

The exhibit runs through April 21 at 200 W. First Street in Claremont. The show is one stop of Art Walks taking place March 2 and April 6.

Kamila K. De La Fuente can be reached at kamila.delafuente@laverne.edu.

A gallery visitor poses for a photo with an art piece Saturday at the opening of the “This is Not A Chair” exhibit at the Claremont Lewis Museum of Art. The museum is located at 200 W. First Street in Claremont and is open Friday through Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. / photo by Christopher Rodriguez
A Claremont resident captures an image of an art piece at the “This Is Not a Chair” exhibit at the Claremont Lewis Museum of Art on Saturday. The exhibit runs through April 21. / photo by Christopher Rodriguez

Kamila K. De La Fuente is a fifth-year senior creative writing and broadcast journalism major. She is currently the LV Life editor for the Campus Times. She is a dedicated broadcast journalist who is passionate about storytelling and community engagement. Devoted to a lifestyle of knowledge, service and vision, she is actively involved in her community as well as a fierce advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion. She has previously served as an assistant editor and staff writer in Fall 2022.

Christopher Rodriguez is a senior photography major and a staff photographer for the Campus Times and La Verne Magazine.

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