Turner Carroll Gallery is pleased to announce Glitched, an exhibition of artworks by California College of the Arts alumni Nina Tichava and Shawn Smith. While Tichava and Smith vary vastly in their medium and creative process, they both explore the intersections of culture, technology, and the environment through their art practices. Tichava’s offsetting of the visual linear code in her works alters the geometric form from what we expect to perceive. Smith, who conceives his sculptures by viewing images of animals through a pixelated computer screen, plays with how an image of an animal is mutated by changing the computer code within the digital image. Of course this mutated animal image is a metaphor for what happens to animals in reality when we alter their food and environment. Thus, all the animals Smith renders are on the verge of extinction.
A process-driven artist, Tichava painstakingly hand-produces effects and patterns that at first glance look as though they may have been produced by a computer or industrial machine, but upon closer inspection reveal the depth, nuance, and humanity of the artist’s hand. Her mixed media pieces are deeply layered and complex. The influence of her New Mexico upbringing in a family of weavers is evident in the overt textile-like layering of thin slices of paper. Woven textures and washes are eventually obscured further by a field of opaque white paint that at once defines geometric the forms and the space the forms occupy. Thousands of beads of paint are set into ordered grids that disintegrate as they grow outward. These multi-faceted layers of warp and weft, the rich amalgam of hybrid color, and the deconstructed grids in Tichava’s intricate works allude to the technical malfunctions or glitches in lines of code that can cause visual disruptions to appear in digital images.
Growing up in a large city where his experience of the natural world was mostly limited to the digital environment of computer and TV screens, Shawn Smith renders images of the natural world into three-dimensional sculptures. Isolating the subject from the frame and distilling its color palette down to the minimum—-just enough information to be identifiable-—he builds three-dimensional representation pixel by pixel with hand-cut, hand-dyed strips of wood. His process is intentionally laborious to contrast with the modern culture of rapidly consuming online images, and also punctuates how important each pixel is in informing the identity of an object or being. The pieces in Glitched undergo further manipulations, as in the forced distorted perspective of “Stretch” and “Squish” where Smith has recreated, in three-dimensional form, the visual effect of “stretching” or “squishing” the aspect ratio of a digital photograph.
Opening Reception Friday, June 14, 2019 from 5 to 7pm
I’m not exactly sure when I decided to be an abstract painter. There was a transition in art school that developed organically from working with the human figure; I began pushing the boundaries of that form and then moved past the figure to abstraction. I wasn’t really a choice per se, but more of a comfortable fit—a coming home perhaps. When I examine my early influences in Northern New Mexico, I can more clearly trace that move to abstraction: as a child I was surrounded by the weavings and beadwork of my parents, as well as the Native American artwork and the dominant aesthetic of Santa Fe rooted in Spanish and Native symbology, art and craft.
With that move to abstraction, however, I did make a choice in audience; by proceeding in a direction that was more focused on pattern, color and reference, a certain section of the population was immediately cut off from my work. It’s arguable that to be open to abstraction a person needs experience with it—whether that comes from looking at art, going to school, having a parent or peer who makes abstracted work or having that boundary from “real life” pushed or questioned. It’s not the easiest thing to embrace or understand without some context or exposure, and abstract art can be intimidating. Which brings me to politics and the environment:
In this most recent presidential election cycle–from the primaries through today’s evolving dramas—it has never been more evident that the people who make up our population are divided and under-exposed to each other; I’m no exception. As hard as it can be to understand abstracted artwork, it’s significantly more challenging to look at life through another person’s perspective and to have some idea of where they’ve been, what they’ve gone through, and who they “are”. Social and traditional media have combined to create an intensely polarized version of Americans as people and our values are as a nation. I don’t blindly accept that version, but instead recognize that there is a growing lack of context and exposure.
Additionally, environmental awareness must be pushed to the forefront—we need to be talking about it, valuing it. This project incorporates an underlying and unifying focus on environment, as climate change is verified and real, and our landscape is changing rapidly. Holding onto nostalgic ideas of the past or viewing the world through screens is creating a damaging separation between humans and our environment.
Borrowed Landscapes is a series of works that use our most common point of reference to explore shifts of perspective and communication. The series is metaphorical and intentionally straightforward, and is beginning with three parts:
- Part one: beginning January 20, 2017 I began the daily practice of collaging and painting over vintage postcards of national landmarks, landscapes and cityscapes; for color postcards I am imposing a grid and painting a screen of individual dots in black, white and grays. For black and white cards I’m using colored paint. My goal is to produce 100 postcards by April 29, 2017.
- Part two: I am seeking out found landscape artworks—photographs, books, prints, original paintings and imagery—and am imposing the same collage and painted grid; I am planning to travel to rural areas and “red states” specifically to find materials in thrift and antique stores. My first trip starts at the end of March 2017 and I’ll spend two weeks driving and camping through southern New Mexico and Texas.
- Part three: I am currently in talks with other visual artists who use landscape as the primary subject of their work; I am proposing they allow me to use their original artwork as the source material over which I’ll paint. I will also be remaking select works with the permission of the original artist to explore perspective.
I developed Borrowed Landscapes with a sense of urgency, and beyond altering existing postcards and photographs my long-term plan is to incorporate regular travel to introduce ideas and invite experiences with people outside my daily experience. My true and heartfelt goal is to connect with others through my artwork, and to share not only the ideas and values I stand with, but also the way I choose to treat those around me in practice: with dignity, curiosity and kindness. It’s time for a new perspective.
Nina Tichava, March 2017
Nina Tichava in Santa Fe Reporter: Three Questions
3 Questions, with Nina Tichava
The Santa Fe Reporter
August 23, 2017, 12:00 am
By Alex De Vore
Artists who represent landscapes are many. It’s almost a default position, though we can’t blame anyone in that there are so many ways to go about it. Enter Nina Tichava, an artist born in Vallecitos, New Mexico, who trained in the Bay Area but always felt the call of home. Abstraction tends to be Tichava’s focus, though her mother—whom she describes as an artist who doesn’t consider herself an artist—instilled a certain crafty (think weaving) style into her ethics and aesthetics. Tichava’s work can be seen in galleries and spaces around the country, but for these-here 3Qs, we reached out about the upcoming show New, New Mexico Abstraction, opening this Friday evening at Turner Carroll Gallery (5 pm. Free. 725 Canyon Road, 986-9800) in which Tichava shows self-described “borrowed landscapes,” actual postcards of infamous places and momuments made new through Tichava’s abstract practices.
Trying to approach something as traditional as landscapes in a fresh way is challenging. I’m not a landscape painter, and when you get closer [to my landscape], it becomes more abstracted. I was never very interested in them, but now I’m starting to see the nuance and skill.
What the heck is a “borrowed” landscape anyway?
It’s a term I totally made up. This is a new project and new vein for me. After the last election cycle, I was really freaked out and was trying to think of commonalities—landscapes was such an obvious one. It was something small I could keep myself busy with. I wasn’t happy with the results of the last election. I was excited to have the first female president. I was shocked, and the environment was one of the first things I was worried about. Climate change is so important right now, and I felt like it was pushed to the side. It’s about shared perspectives; the idea was I didn’t want to take pictures and make landscape paintings—I’m an interloper in the world of landscapes. They’re beautiful in person. They’re cool and magnetic and sexy and there’s subtle political commentary. I have an atomic bomb, that’s my favorite one I made. I did the White House in gold, the Supreme Court in gold. My goal was to mimic the first 100 days of the presidency and trying to understand, ‘Why did people vote for this person who’s a miogynist and has no interest beyond his own ego?’
Were you on the lookout for specific scenes or ideologies with the postcard imagery?
Initially it’s because I’ve always collected old stationary and postcards. So when I was like, ‘How can I talk to people through art about politics?’ I thought it was an interesting idea. I’d go on eBay and search for vintage postcards, and a lot of them are just what I happened to find.
Nina Tichava and Jamie Brunson in Santa Fe Arts Journal: Finding Quiet in Abstraction 23 August 2017
Turner Carroll Gallery highlights recent work by two New Mexico-based abstract artists in its show “Nina Tichava and Jamie Brunson: NEW New Mexico Abstraction,” which opened on August 23 and is on exhibit through September 12.
Tichava, who was born in the small New Mexico village of Vallecitos north of Abiquiu and raised in New Mexico and northern California, has focused her creative time during the past year on finding a place of calm within her studio practice. “I spent half my life on the Pacific coast, near the ocean,” Tichava explains. “When seeking equanimity, my mind turns to memories of the sea. These remembered images and sounds provide comfort and grounding, a quiet that can be hard to find amidst the chaos of contemporary existence. The sea soothes in rhythmic ways, and a conveyance of that feeling is the goal of these new paintings.”
Tichava, a recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant in 2007, describes her paintings as about relationships. She’s fascinated by the interactions between materials and methods and the relationship between color and space. ”My process-based paintings are as unplanned as possible,” she says. “I search to convey a feeling of immediacy and to enhance the very physical and tactile elements of my artwork.”
Using painting and printmaking techniques, Tichava interweaves drawing and collage with a variety of media. Paintings are multi-layered. “A prominent element of my work is the application of thousands of beads of paint, painstakingly and individually painted with a brush and used to create screens and patterns,” she adds.
Brunson, who moved to northern New Mexico from California’s Bay Area three years ago, has historically focused on experiences that occur during her Kundalini meditation practice. “The sensations in Kundalini are ones of opening or expanding, as if the boundaries between oneself and the external world were dissolving into an interconnected, energetic field,” she says. “For many artists, studio practice produces that same sense of total identification with the materials, the moment and the process.”
Nina Tichava was born in Vallecitos, NM, and was raised between rural Northern New Mexico and the Bay Area, California. Jamie Brunson, on the other hand, was born in Coronado, CA, and built her career in the Bay Area, only recently moving to Northern New Mexico. However, both artists are interested in time and place, and the influence of these concepts in their work is subtle yet undeniable.
Jamie Brunson‘s work has historically focused on the sensory experiences that occur in meditation practice. Since moving to New Mexico three years ago, elements of the environment, landscape, and architecture have increasingly influenced her compositions, expressed formally as saturated color, rhythmic intervals, geometric divisions, and tactile surface treatment. The final product evokes internal and external landscapes and shifting atmospheres. The process becomes the practice of staying grounded in the present through the immediacy of sensation.
Tichava works primarily from a procedural stance. Her art is about relationship, and her focus is on the interplay of elements and materials. Her process is best described as weaving, as she combines painting and printmaking techniques, drawing and collage, in a fashion both liberated and constrained. Tichava’s mother was a New Mexican weaver in the more traditional sense, and Nina’s paintings explore how to weave oneself into a tight knit, traditional community as a relative outsider. She weaves New Mexico’s historic aesthetic with contemporary concepts. Recently, the sudden and urgent sacredness of our natural environment has become Nina’s focus. Her Borrowed Landscapes series aims to find a new perspective and reconnection to the land and the people who call it home.
Opening Reception Friday, August 25, 2017 from 5 to 7pm
[n.b. that this event takes place in Santa Fe]