Despite a little heat I make my way to Modified Arts Saturday afternoon. Phoenix – based Saskia Jordá and Los Angeles – based Chris Oatey are showing. This is the second exhibition I have dropped into since new director Jeff Cabot took over the space. The first show I saw was The End of the Wild. The title drew me in and the show itself carried a few extraordinary pieces. I met Jeff on that visit. His plans included showing Phoenix based as well as out-of-state artwork (my memory says California, but don’t hold me to that) for the downtown art gallery.
Modified’s current exhibition, Random Interference, combines two installation artists whose works compliment each other. There is most definitely a random energy to the exhibit. But the cohesiveness comes through visually in the unusual mix of materials, technique and quality of the work.
I enter and am happy to see several Phoenix College art faculty. We all exchange greetings. Saskia makes her way to me. I learn she’s from Venezuela and I want to hear her speak Spanish. We exchange a few quick words. I ask Saskia about the new Textiles class she is teaching this semester. She responds in a lively manner and describes herself as an interdisciplinary artist who fits into non traditional, mixed-media sensibility. Some of her students come from more traditional backgrounds in weaving and fabrics. It’s good she says, I teach, they learn – they teach, I learn.
I’ve seen her work before and I always leave it thinking she’s smart with her content, and confident with her material and form. I’m pleased to have a bit of time with her. She’s warm and approachable.
The piece below is my favorite in the show (detail above). The strung yarn balls feel so familiar. The color, texture and rhythm are strong elements, and the whimsy of the upper area is grounded by the layered solid felt base. I love the red wooden- climbing or descending – form in between, it stands separate and yet connects.
About her art:
In a world where a six-hour airplane plane flight can transplant a person into a completely alien world, cultural identity is retained through rituals surrounding clothing, language, and food. Having relocated from my native Venezuela to the United States as a teenager, I became aware of the layers of ‘skin’ that define and separate cultures—one’s own skin, the second skin of clothing, the shell of one’s dwelling place—all these protecting the vital space of one’s hidden identity. As an interdisciplinary artist, my site-specific installations and performances map the tension between retaining one’s identity and assimilating a foreign persona, while referencing the body in a transitional space and as an alternate artifact.
Saskia Jorda was born in Caracas, Venezuela and received an MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York. She currently resides in Arizona.
Showing alongside Saskia is Chris Oatey. His largest installation Pour 1 lays out in the corner of the gallery. The base is cement. I like the use of materials and the title. The whole environment amuses me.
Random Interference, New Works by Saskia Jordá and Chris Oatey, will run at Modified Arts to Sept 14, 2012.
Modified Arts, 407 East Roosevelt St. Phoenix, AZ 85004
Open first & third Fridays, 6-9 pm, Saturdays 12-4pm, or by appointment.
Side note :
I stopped into eye lounge where I visited with Rebecca Ross who was installing her Katrina photographs. Next Tuesday is the 7 year anniversary. The black and white photos are powerful work. The run is short, contact them for more info.
I also dropped into Five15 … fun. If you didn’t catch the 5155 :: Member Invitational Group Show, sorry it closed yesterday. Rumor has it they’ll do it again next year.