Tuesday, October 01, 2019

October 2019 Unicorn Of The Month: Alicia Piller

Los Angeles based artist Alicia Piller envisions historical traumas, both political and environmental, through the lens of a microscope. Her sculptures and installations conceive of past atrocities, suffering, and accomplishments as biological forms–broken down to a cellular level. A variety of materials including vinyl, latex balloons, and photographs, are employed to examine the energy around wounds societies have inflicted upon themselves and others. Her subject matter is often informed by her studies in anthropology and her sculptural process by her time in fashion and leather-working. Alicia Piller recently received her MFA from the California Institute of the Arts in the spring of 2019.

In her upcoming solo show at Lowell Ryan Projects, Alicia uses sprawling and knotted fields of latex and vinyl in her installations and wall works. The combination of raw materials, photographs, and news clippings twist together to form a kind of fragmented mirror of the current state of America. Her work references the trials and tribulations of this country's history and offers optimistic glimpses of a possible future with bright colors that show signs of life and proliferating forms that show signs of growth. Piller weaves into the work references to nature, family, capitalism, colonialism and industrial production in pieces that span the personal and the political.

One of the primary works in the exhibition, "Bulging veins. Stately being in its forthright mood, mottled with a tortured history," is a wall-sized mandala, a cluster of swirling bright green, blue and red latex and vinyl. Throughout the colorful forms are embedded photographs of flowers and plants. At the center is a slowly decomposing cue ball, a sphere not unlike our endangered planet.

Detail: "Bulging veins. Stately being in its forthright mood, mottled with a tortured history."

Across the wasteland, a twisted melody. Matter and spirit., another central work in the show, resembles a whale skeleton in size and shape. Rib forms reach out from the gallery floor, and horrors from the news are woven into the structure. Viewers can walk through the carcass and see press clippings from the last 200 years about gun violence and white supremacy. The piece holds the emotional effects of contemporary life while asking us to bury these societal evils.

In "Anticipates her future. Pearls and fruits, bows and arrows," a painted image of an archetypal woman squints in anguish. She embodies the spirit of our times and this reflective, transitional moment in our history. The word "PERMUTATIONS" is spelled out at the piece's base, questioning how we arrived where we are today.
Detail: "Nature of a stately being. Outstretched arms, bursting with newborn stars." 2019

Dissected sycamore seeds found throughout the work are broken up and reconfigured, symbolizing the dispersion of immigrant populations throughout our country. Elements of Spirit of the Times show us death and destruction, but also conception, birth, and transformation. The works convey an optimistic future, which imagines our past and present accomplishments and failings composted into new life.

When asked what she wants viewers to take away from her work, "Overall I would like the viewer to come away with a sense of hope; an excitement even, for the infinite possibilities of new systems/new patterns that can form from our collective histories."

Alicia's show at Lowell Ryan Projects opens October 19 and runs until December 21. To see more of her work, visit her Website and check out her Instagram page.