Artists Pay Homage to Histories Preserved and Forgotten

LOS ANGELES — Perhaps one of the greatest desires of artists is to make visible the invisible, to give expression to the ineffable yet deeply felt realities of existence in an infinitely layered and fluctuating world. As Yet and Still to Come, currently on view at Tiger Strikes Asteroid Los Angeles, brings together four artists who take on this challenge. Working in multiple mediums and addressing a variety of topics, the artists’ commonality lies in their refusal to make easily classified works, instead opting for a collective sense of complexity.

A classically trained oil painter from China, artist Yike Zhang recently shifted her focus toward textiles. In “Wang Zhu” (2023), hanging near the gallery entrance, the artist paid homage to her grandmother, after whom the piece is named. Zhang delicately weaves multiple layers of fabric into a form that appears almost scroll-like, combining Chinese text with different types of imagery, including a sewn-in version of a family portrait. Another artist working with memory, Maddy Inez Leeser also takes a cue from her grandmother. The artist based her beautifully glazed vessels, “Memory Jug #5” and “Memory Jug #7” (both 2022), on her grandmother’s spirit jars, which she collects as a way to symbolically hold space for the family’s history.

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Family comes up again in the work of Liz Hernández, who often draws upon her Mexican heritage in her practice. For the exhibition, curator Emilia Shaffer-Del Valle chose pieces from the artist’s Tálisman series, in which Hernández created a mythical archive of her family’s spiritual and cultural practices. In “Luz y progreso en tu camino” (2020), which translates loosely to “light and progress along your path,” the artist emblazoned the titular phrase on top of a distorted mirror — showcasing the ways in which a family’s practices and philosophies both stay with family members and change throughout the course of their lives.

On walks around their Oakland neighborhood, artist Tracy Ren took photographs of outdoor altars they encountered, which became the starting point for “Threshold #3” and “Threshold #2” (both 2022). Ren encased these images of altars in meticulously crafted clay frames and added their own drawings to create the works, essentially creating shrines of shrines. While not directly tied to the artist’s personal history, like many of the exhibition’s other works, these pieces make visible the ways cultural tradition and spiritual practices that can be transmitted within communities outside of the family unit.

As a whole, As Yet and Still to Come points to the precariousness and relentlessness of time — the way it both preserves and forgets. The various nods to diasporic life and family histories and traditions passed down through generations congeal into an installation that suggests the fragmentation inherent in an archive: between the various moments captured in a family’s photo album lay thousands of unrecorded events. The exhibition’s strength lies not in the artists capturing particular histories, which the objects do not do, but in honoring the all-too-human desire to represent them in the first place.

Tracy Ren, “Threshold #2” (2022), digital photograph, plexiglass, paper clay, gouache, white out pen, 17 x 19 x 1/2 inches; “Threshold #3” (2022), digital photograph, plexiglass, paper clay, gouache, white out pen, 13 x 15 1/2 x 3 1/2 inches
Maddy Inez Leeser, left to right: “Memory Jug #5” (2022), glazed stoneware, 8 1/2 x 6 1/2 x 6 1/2 inches; “Memory Jug #7” (2022), glazed stoneware, 8 x 5 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches
Yike Zhang, “Wang Zhu” (2023), hand embroidery, dye, beads, canvas, 52 x 45 x 1/10 inches

As Yet and Still to Come continues at Tiger Strikes Asteroid Los Angeles (The Bendix Building,
1206 Maple Avenue, 5th floor, #523, Fashion District, Los Angeles) through June 25. The exhibition was curated by Emilia Shaffer-Del Valle.

Source: Hyperallergic.com

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