‘It Appears to Be a Circle’ theme for UCSB art show
“It Appears to Be a Circle” is the provocative theme for an exhibition on view through May 29 at the UCSB Art, Design and Architecture Museum, 552 University Road. It is open from noon to 5 p.m Wednesday through Sunday.
This exhibit, which is free and open to the public, marks the completion of Tom Dunn, Marisa de la Peña and Chad Ress’ thesis projects for their respective MFA degrees, awarded by the Art Department at UCSB.
“As they all continue to shape their practice moving forward, they invite you to question: How many ways can one create a circle?” asks Victoria Jennings in a news release about the art work.
She is a doctoral student in the history of art and architecture, a Murray Roman Curatorial Fellow and internship program coordinator at UCSB.
“Shaping and reshaping, ‘It Appears to Be a Circle’ fashions the ephemeral moments in time into tangible experiences that awaken the senses,” said Ms. Jennings. “Within these walls, you will find the works of three artists who propose their own ways of imaging how their various practices can lead them down circular paths, loops and returns —- an ouroboros escapade.
“Drawing on the past years spent manifesting their visions, exploring theories and furthering their own artistic voice, these artists welcome you to explore the realms of the politicized night sky, ancestral inheritance and the instinctive worlds they have shaped,” she said.
“Finding the pulse of his own work through the ribbons of the subconscious, you will find Tom Dunn’s art splashed across walls and flashing before your eyes. Acrylic paint in shades of black and white weave in and out of the surfaces and are combined with digital drawing over previously completed pieces, creating an undulating infinite life.
“Mr. Dunn, largely guided by the instinctive process of starting something and responding to it, finds comfort in the unknown that is created through his artwork. By making his own sense of meaning, a path toward escapism is paved, and an excess of creative euphoria is manifested.
“Ultimately, the artwork encourages viewers to place emphasis on the journey rather than the finished product, which can be viewed through the immersive space he has created, activating the neurons of the mind.”
Mr. Dunn completed his undergraduate degree in Australia and has lived in the US for the last 10 years. He began the master’s in fine arts program doing large scale, colorful oil paintings, but when the studios were temporarily closed due to COVID-19, he decided to use the time without a studio to learn to draw properly. Instead, he began a series of small black and white acrylic paintings on paper that he is now developing into an improvised animation called “Lunula.”
The imagery in his paintings derive from the subconscious.
“Ms. de la Peña’s work is grounded in the fountainhead of her heritage. Astrologically inclined, much of her work presented here harkens to the ghosts that haunt Turtle Island soil, influencing her material and edible art creations,” said Ms. Jennings. “Molded and mixed with the hands of her abuela in mind, flans, gelatinas and pan dulce are baked with raw ingredients and emotions.
“A quinceañera tablecloth is adorned with gesso and rhinestones, topped with vibrantly luscious cakes made of cardboard, molding medium and speckling, their appearance tantalizingly mouthwatering. Underlined by Xicane and Yoeme (Yaqui) methods of storytelling, desire is shaped with sugary confection with no beginning or end.”
Ms. de la Peña’s current work revolves around the role of horror in art and media and its power to subvert settler colonialism.
She creates edible sculptures around dispossession and consumption, hoping to haunt and nourish audiences involved and finally free herself of the vanishing myth. Her work has been published and featured by Taschen Books, Harper Collins and DC Shoes.
She received her bachelor’s in fine arts in 2012 in textiles from the California College of the Arts.
“Mr. Ress’ installation piece ‘State of Night’ foregrounds the legal walls constructed through the language of the Dark-Sky Movement. Using the so-categorized malefactor, the spectral shapes of letters and reflections of anthropocentric legal words are illuminated amidst the ephemeral clouds,” Ms. Jennings said.
“ ‘The Movement,’ which aims to cast a moral quantification of light — itself an intangible object related to wider discussions of class and privilege — is here captured in an endless loop within time and space. Shades of light find their contrast in the tenebrosity of the human experience, fashioned in alphabetic lines, dots and circles. Visitors are encouraged to inhabit the space, thus altering and making their own subjective experience within the walls of light and language.
“Mr. Ress is a photographer and artist working with image, text, video and sound as a means to explore political, economic and environmental processes. Often using legal language as a starting point, his projects explore a more visceral relationship to the government policies shaping our lives.”