Violence & softness 'Intersect' at gallery
March 20, 2008 1:30 PM
A formation of bright felt army tanks crowded one entire wall. On the adjacent wall, grotesque scenes of disemboweled deer were delicately stitched into embroidery and hung in neat orderly frames.
Lisa Solomon’s installation, “Synchronized Tanks,” and Marin Camille Hood’s series, “Pocket Guide,” are currently on display together at the "Intersections" exhibit in SF State’s The Art Gallery. The exhibit is set to run from March 13 to April 16 on the second floor of the Cesar Chavez Student Center.
Strong contrast and dualities, as well as shared themes of gender and violence, make these two artists compatible, said curator Faith Powell, 26.
In “Synchronized Tanks,” hundreds of small felt tanks come together to create an argyle pattern—a colorful design of interlocking diamonds. The softness of the felt material combined with the sense of danger of the tanks creates a strong contrast central to the installation’s theme, said artist and SF State painting professor Solomon, 31.
“I am quite intrigued by the notion of hybridization,” said Solomon, who currently lives in Oakland. “[It’s about] the fusing of elements that may at first glance appear to be unrelated.”
Solomon explained that being half Japanese and half Caucasian creates an interesting mix of cultural identities, and the duality in her artwork is influenced by her own background.
“I see myself as a hybrid,” she said.
Earlier this year, Solomon had displayed a variation of “Synchronized Tanks” at the Koumi Machi Museum in Japan.
In preparation for this installation, Solomon sketched the positioning of the tanks on graph paper, and then more than a thousand holes were drilled into the wall for each tank.
“I am also intrinsically interested in pattern and repetitive behaviors,” Solomon explained.
The Art Gallery manager, Sophie Johnson, 21, said she found Solomon’s installation stimulating.
“Some might say it’s monotonous, others would say it’s therapeutic. I like the way everything fits together,” said Johnson, an SF State senior liberal studies major.
The combination of gentle and dangerous elements in “Synch-ronized Tanks” takes on many meanings. In one sense it relates to masculinity, femininity and concepts of gender, Solomon said.
“I wanted to see what imagery can trigger these relationships,” she said.
Solomon added that America’s continued involvement in war also adds new layers of meaning to the piece—“an anti-war political aspect.”
Depending on the viewer’s perspective, “Synchronized Tanks” takes on an entirely different significance—appearing simply as a colorful pattern.
“If you squint your eyes, you don’t even notice the tanks,” Johnson said.
Brightly colored silhouettes of animals—moose, swans, rabbits and quail—are superimposed over hunting targets in other pieces of Solomon’s work.
“In both pieces, I’m doing something I’m fearful of—war and shooting,” Solomon said.
Across the room, eviscerated animal carcasses and other images of hunting were embroidered into colorful fabric in Hood’s “Pocket Guide.”
“I paired violent images with soft materiality of fabric,” Hood said in a soft voice. “Hopefully it will disturb people.”
Although the piece is open to a wide range of interpretation, underlying concepts of gender in mainstream culture inspired these graphic scenes, Hood said.
“Images of women in our culture are very erotic,” said Hood, 24. “Sometimes pornographic.”
Hood said the graphic hunting scenes of “Pocket Guide” relate to how women are violently exposed and dominated in modern society.
As a supplement to the exhibit, Hood included a small guide called “Field Dressing Your Deer,” which gives explicit instructions on how to eviscerate an animal.
“Cut deeply around the anus,” read the first direction of the brochure. “Remove it with intestines. Separate hindquarters by splitting pelvic bone with sharp, heavy knife or hand ax.
“Open chest cavity, if desired, by splitting the cartilage that joins the ribs to the breastbone,” it continued. “Split muscle (diaphragm), separating chest from stomach cavity.”
Hood explained that she doesn’t hate all hunters.
“Some are ethical,” she said. “But some people kill just for the thrill of killing.”
The Art Gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. Admission is free.
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