Author: Lena Smith
Occidental staff, students and professors alike have puzzled over the small, freestanding new building by the Academic Commons. But today at 5 p.m., the mystery will be over. Students who pay a visit to the building will find that it is actually the award-winning Los Angeles Museum of Art (LAMOA), hosting a wooden sculpture exhibit.
OxyArts Director Aandrea Stang arranged the exhibit just a few weeks before the start of the current school year after Alice Konitz, an Eagle Rock-based artist, approached Stang looking to make Occidental LAMOA’s new temporary home. Konitz is in charge of programming the exhibits, which have not all been finalized — though performance artist Rachel Mason will host an exhibit in LAMOA in the spring.
Konitz, who was unavailable for comment at press time due to a residency abroad, originally imagined and established LAMOA. She won the Mohn Award for artistic excellence in 2014 for her display of the miniature museum at the “Made in L.A.” exhibit in the Hammer Museum. The Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena also hosted the traveling museum, where it was home to paintings, videos and performance art by a variety of local artists.
The museum has remained more or less deserted since Konitz reconstructed it at Occidental. However, Stang said that after it opens the space will be explorable and accessible to all.
“People will engage with it as much and as little as they want to,” Stang said.
Alice Clements, also a local artist who focuses on sculpture, is currently working on the first installation that will be on display at the Occidental-based LAMOA. The 10-by-10-by-13-foot space is restrictive, but Clements used the structure’s simple design as inspiration for her sculpture. To brainstorm ideas, she wrote down adjectives that describe the structure, built sentences around them and arrived at several themes to incorporate into the sculpture. She wants to make her audience consider the space’s simplicity, their own physical interaction with it and the visual divisions it creates when a body stands inside of it.
Using her background in dance and photography, Clements designed the sculpture to force her audience to step over it and duck through it, playing with movements that may make the human body feel uncomfortable while walking through the sculpture.
“I’m really interested in making people move their bodies in ways that they wouldn’t normally,” Clements said.
Clements often returns to the theme of construction, which inspired the use of wood and balanced partitions to break up the space. The sculpture uses as little material as possible for support. She gave her piece the name “Primary” and painted it primary colors in an effort to maintain simplicity.
Stang plans for Konitz and Clements to give presentations for Occidental’s Art History and Visual Arts program, but was not able to have either artist teach a class, as visiting artists have done in the past because the exhibit was put together so quickly.
The purpose of LAMOA is to give local artists a place to display their work, as well as break down the wall between the institution and the exhibitor, according to Stang. Through LAMOA, Konitz can question the definition of “institution,” as she is both the artist who built the space and the curator who fills it.
The exhibit will remain on the grass between Herrick and the Academic Common for the entire 2015-16 academic year.
The opening reception for LAMOA will be held today from 5 to 8 p.m.
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