Celestial Ash: Assemblages from Los Angeles
What remains in the wake of a dying star? The celestial ash of cosmic greatness. Inspired by self-taught artist and filmmaker Joseph Cornell, Celestial Ash features artists who continue to create poetry from the commonplace. Curated by journalist and art historian Kristine McKenna, the exhibit features L.A. artists Exene Cervenka, Gail Greenfield Randall, Matjames, and Michael McMillen, whose art reflects the legacy of Cornell. "Joseph Cornell's intimate, elaborate shadowboxes have had a palpable effect on these contemporary artists who similarly weave commonplace objects into extraordinary and magical landscapes," says McKenna, "Cornell also has a tangible connection to Los Angeles-his first museum retrospective was organized by the Pasadena Art Museum in 1967."
While all assemblages use found objects to create three-dimensional artistic compositions, the genre varies greatly in style and execution. Celestial Ash looks closely at the work of contemporary artists whose work alludes to Cornell in terms of mood, magic, and intention. Unlike the widely known art of Edward Kienholz and Bruce Conner, west coast artists whose aggressive assemblages of the ‘50s and ‘60s were a vehicle for searing social commentary, the artists of Celestial Ash create works that are personal and deeply emotional. Awash in feelings of melancholy and things lost to the past, their works have a wistful loveliness that is worlds away from work by Kienholz and Conner.