Between the Divide showcases the work of the Arts Council for Long Beach’s 2019 Professional Artist Fellows and Percent for Arts Fellows. Generously supported through the City of Long Beach’s allocation for the arts and Percent for Arts Program, these artists represent the diversity and vibrancy of our city. The fellowships recognize Long Beach artists who live, work or actively create in Long Beach. The 2019 fellows are: Eric Almanza, Sandow Birk, Virginia Broersma, Diana Burbano, Jorge Mujica, Brittany Ransom and Nancy Woo.
Between the Divide bridges the gap between conflicting viewpoints; intersections between politics, culture and identity; tension between science and mysticism; the conflicted relationship between human culture, digital interface, and nature. Finding a passage through the negative space these artists challenge us to search between the divide for common ground, and alternate ways of thinking through creative expression. Themes such as co-evolution, the occupation of space and self-identity are explored by the body and use of space.
Eric Almanza examines the intersection between politics, culture and identity as crafted through the lens of a Chicano painter working in the context of contemporary aesthetics. Immigration, the criminalization of immigrants, and the border wall that separates México from the USA have populated his work over the past several years.
Sandow Birk emphasizes social issues in his work such as inner city violence, graffiti, political issues, travel, war and prisons. In his ongoing series Imaginary Monuments he presents similarly-sized etchings, to create a series of monumental prints that consider collected information that have shaped our world and to ponder their effects on our contemporary lives.
Virginia Broersma engages with figurative painting and its history to look at how the representation of the human form has influenced our ideas about people. In her paintings, rough and gestural marks demolish pristine surfaces of skin and the forms pantomime the language of the body without being a literal depiction. In this way, the body refuses to be identified and categorized in easy terms.
Diana Burbano feels a sense of separation from the place she was born. There is a sense of not belonging in either country, the United States where she now lives and Colombia where she was born. As a playwright, she explores these themes in works such as “Policarpa” and “The Ghosts of Bogota”, she is trying to reconcile the two with her own vision of Colombia.
Jorge Mujica collaborates with other artists through the non-verbal communication and the process of creating artwork. He has removed paintings from the traditional wall where, as he sees it, “they find a place to rest.” By moving the paintings to three dimensional sculptures they personify living space and create a rupture in the panorama. The eye meanders through the surface seeing through the negative spaces.
Brittany Ransom strives to probe the lines between human, animal, and environmental relations while exploring emergent technologies. Using ready-made and custom computing interfaces, code, and sensory data as a material, her work introduces concepts that explore the conflicted relationship between our human culture, the way we interact with one another via digital interface, and the concern for nature. Through digital technologies such as 3D Printing, Laser Cutting, and CNC Milling, she explores the paradoxical bonds between human, urban and natural ecologies, the inhabitants of said spaces, and the co-evolution between the shifting digital innovations and our human selves.
Nancy Woo is fascinated by the tension between; science and mysticism; body and spirit; masculine and feminine; modern technology and ancient mythologies; mortality and collective consciousness. She embraces “poetry as mysticism—the splendor of things unseen, the comfort of ritual, the attention to life moving in surprising ways.” To Nancy “poems can be many different things: agents of healing, reflective pools, rooms of discovery, colorful question marks, spells for a new world.”
On Saturday, September 21 from 9:30 a.m. to noon Between the Divide will open concurrently with the Grand Opening of the new Billie Jean King Main Library. A public reception will take place on Saturday, September 28 from 2 to 5 p.m.
For more information visit artslb.org.
This article was released by the Arts Council for Long Beach.