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Alumnx Spotlights

Alumnx Spotlights Fall 2022

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Kelly Akashi’s First Museum Solo Show Includes a Range of Mediums

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The artist’s photographs, as well as sculptures that are hand-blown, cast, or carved, are on view at the San Jose Museum of Art.

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Witness, 2022 (Gelatin silver mounted on aluminum in hand patinaed aluminum artist’s frame, 40.5 by 63 inches)

Witness, 2022 (Gelatin silver mounted on aluminum in hand patinaed aluminum artist’s frame, 40.5 by 63 inches)

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Kelly Akashi, ’06 BFA Fine Arts

Formations is decidedly nonchronological. I don’t see my practice as isolated bodies of work; I always try to keep my mind on the greater lifelong practice. So it’s been exciting to see similar themes and questions arise in works that were made years apart, sharing rooms together in conversation.

These photographs were taken in Poston, Arizona, where my father, his parents, and his siblings were interned during World War II. They had to leave their Boyle Heights home—and my grandfather’s business in Little Tokyo—and had no idea how long they would be gone. The artist David Horvitz, who is also Japanese American, told me that the trees that still stand on these sites were most likely planted by the people interned there. Many of the interned Japanese Americans came from agricultural backgrounds, and apparently, they built ponds, cultivated the land, had harvests, and added these trees. The trees, along with some barracks and an adobe brick schoolhouse, are all that remain, and they won’t live forever. —As told to Juliana Halpert in Artforum

Installation view of Kelly Akashi: Formations at the San Jose Museum of Art

Installation view of Kelly Akashi: Formations at the San Jose Museum of Art

Witness, 2022 (Gelatin silver mounted on aluminum in hand patinaed aluminum artist's frame, 40.5 x 63 inches )

Witness, 2022 (Gelatin silver mounted on aluminum in hand patinaed aluminum artist's frame, 40.5 x 63 inches )

Witness, 2022 (Gelatin silver mounted on aluminum in hand patinaed aluminum artist's frame, 60.5 by 41.25 inches)

Witness, 2022 (Gelatin silver mounted on aluminum in hand patinaed aluminum artist's frame, 60.5 by 41.25 inches)

Inheritance, 2022 (Poston stone, cast lead crystal, and heirloom [grandmother’s broach], 3.25 by 6 by 3.25 inches)

Inheritance, 2022 (Poston stone, cast lead crystal, and heirloom [grandmother’s broach], 3.25 by 6 by 3.25 inches)

Inheritance, 2022 (Poston stone, cast lead crystal, and heirloom [grandmother’s bracelet and ring], 4.5 by 6.5 by 6.5 inches) 

Inheritance, 2022 (Poston stone, cast lead crystal, and heirloom [grandmother’s bracelet and ring], 4.5 by 6.5 by 6.5 inches) 

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Kelly Akashi: Formations is the first major museum exhibition and catalog of Akashi’s work, and will be on view through May 21, 2023 at the San Jose Museum of Art before touring nationally. Her work also can be found in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Brooklyn Museum, New York; CC Foundation, Shanghai, China; M WOODS, Beijing, China; and Sifang Museum, Nanjing, China, among others. You can read more about Akashi on her website, and follow her on Instagram, @citizenbong

If you are an Otis alumnx who would like to be featured in a future spotlight, please let us know here.

Hilary Baker’s Recent Work Is a Commentary on L.A.’s Lost Urban Habitats

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Her work will be seen in three exhibitions this next year.

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Casa de Cadillac, 2018 (Acrylic on linen, 24 by 24 inches)

Casa de Cadillac, 2018 (Acrylic on linen, 24 by 24 inches)

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Hilary Baker, ’76 MFA Fine Arts

Predators, a series of paintings I recently completed, is a commentary on loss: the loss of Los Angeles’s iconic architecture—along with its history as the city grows and expands—and the resultant loss of the habitats of its urban and suburban wildlife.

Casa de Cadillac is a portrait of a common species hiding in plain view among one of L.A.’s landmark sites. Predators refers not only to the predatory nature of these animals, but also to the simultaneous threats of urban development and sprawl. As wildlife is forced to exist on the fringes of our towns and cities, their habitats continue to disappear in an ever-growing, human-centric world. 

In a perfect world, these paintings wouldn’t be necessary. But I created this work to remind us that we need to respectfully co-exist with—and protect—these creatures. Otherwise, we face the prospect that, as our landscape vanishes, we run the risk of losing our humanity in the process. If we can retain our appreciation of our past, the efforts to preserve our history enhances our lives. And if we can coexist with the creatures who roam our hills and haunt our backyards, then we enhance our future. 

Baker’s Wildlife on the Edge: Hilary Baker currently is on view at the Wilding Museum of Art and Nature through March 6, 2023. In April 2023, Baker’s work will be included in the group show, Notions of Place, at the Angels Gate Cultural Center and in a solo exhibition, Souvenir, at Rory Devine Fine Art, Los Angeles. You can read more about Baker on her website, and follow her on Instagram, @hilarybakerstudio

If you are an Otis alumnx who would like to be featured in a future spotlight, please let us know here.

Sasha December’s Stylized Portraits Harken Back to her Youth

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The artist recently showed her work at United Talent Agency’s gallery space in Los Angeles.

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everything there is to offer, 2022 (Oil on canvas, 16 by 20 inches)

everything there is to offer, 2022 (Oil on canvas, 16 by 20 inches)

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Sasha December, ’20 BFA Fine Arts

The subjects of my work are extensions of the girl I have always fantasized about being in my youth, and the exhausting journey to becoming her. On this journey I’ve realized even that girl longs to be somebody else sometimes. I’ve realized even she is occasionally detached, melancholic, materialistic, and she knows she’s flawed.

But ultimately, in both mind and body, she is beautiful for who she is. She’s learning that she can be whoever, and have whatever she wants, as long as she believes in herself and lives with integrity. 

Hopeful, benevolent, and considerate; she just wants the best for those around her. 

December is an independent artist based in New York City. Her Artist Project, first contact, a collection of paintings and drawings featuring stylized portraits, recently showed at the UTA Artist Space LA. You can read more about December on her website, and follow her on Instagram, @studiosashadecember

If you are an Otis alumnx who would like to be featured in a future spotlight, please let us know here.

Sofia Enriquez’s Solo Exhibition Included a Limited Edition Collection with Obey Clothing

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Her show at artist Shepard Fairey’s Echo Park gallery, Subliminal Projects, ended earlier this month.

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Important Ride, 2022 (Acrylic on canvas, 16.5 by 11.5 inches)

Important Ride, 2022 (Acrylic on canvas, 16.5 by 11.5 inches)

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Sofia Enriquez, ’14 BFA Communication Arts, Illustration

This fall I installed a solo exhibition, Mucho: Sofia Enriquez, with Shepard Fairey’s gallery, Subliminal Projects, in Echo Park, Los Angeles. The exhibition showcased fine art, sculpture, bespoke hand-made installations, and clothing. In partnership with Obey Clothing and in conjunction with the opening of the exhibition, we released a limited-edition t-shirt and a series of select, hand-painted items from the Obey Clothing line, displayed in a pop-up shop, dubbed “MUCHO X OBEY,” within the exhibition.

The work investigates my intercultural identity through the use of vibrant, distinct symbolism, creating an auto-biographical legend that weaves themes of Mexican-Catholic iconography, indigenous homage, Spanglish text, modern pop-culture references, and feminine strength.

Subliminal Projects presented MUCHO by Sofia Enriquez this fall. The exhibition showcased the breadth of Enriquez’s practice, including fine art, sculpture, bespoke hand-made installations, and clothing.

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Video and image courtesy of Subliminal Projects. 

Enriquez lives in California, where she works on murals, paintings, her fashion collection MUCHO, and large-scale installations, such as the one she made for Coachella in 2019. You can read more about Enriquez on her website, and follow her on Instagram, @sofiaenriquez

If you are an Otis alumnx who would like to be featured in a future spotlight, please let us know here.

An Exhibition Invitation from Japan Prompted Coleen Sterritt to Work in a Different Scale

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Sterritt also has shown her smaller sculptures in several recent group exhibitions in the U.S.

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Burp, 2020 (Found natural object, rubber gloves, spray foam, paint, 13.5 by 18 by 14 inches)

Burp, 2020 (Found natural object, rubber gloves, spray foam, paint, 13.5 by 18 by 14 inches)

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Coleen Sterritt, ’79 MFA Fine Arts

In January of 2019, I was invited to participate in a group exhibition at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum in Japan. This prompted me to create sculptures on a much smaller scale than my usual, life-size work. I presented three pedestal pieces in Tokyo and have sporadically continued to work in this scale since then. These smaller works have been included in a slew of recent group exhibitions, where I’ve exhibited with some fabulous artists in both artist-run spaces and commercial galleries. These include Irvine Fine Arts Center, Space Ten in Hawthorne, King Studio in Venice, Goat Gallery in Landers, Berkshire Botanical Garden in Massachusetts, Tufenkian Fine Arts in Glendale, and Traywick Contemporary in Berkeley.

My methodology is such that I keep an ever-evolving collection of leftovers in my studio: garden debris, found furniture, thrift store finds, and choice scraps from older, deconstructed sculptures. There’s also an abundance of more traditional remnants such as wood, plaster, fabric, wire, and even photographic images. Despite my formal knowledge of art materials, when I harvest these, I’m never quite sure how they will be used. I only know they trigger a visceral response in me. They suggest a set of visual circumstances that challenge my understanding of the natural world. Their presence in my space asks that I reconfigure my understanding of the world I live in. They demand that I re-animate the interplay between my world and theirs: the man-made world versus the natural world. The results can be sensuous, elegant, clunky, messy, awkward, and humorous as the interplay of form, material, and color evokes opposing considerations and questions our ideas of beauty and perfection. I consider the works to be poetic mashups of contemporary life.  

Hands & Feet, 2020 (Bamboo, rubber gloves, cardboard, duct tape, and shellac, 20 by 13 by 11 inches) by Coleen Sterritt

Hands & Feet, 2020 (Bamboo, rubber gloves, cardboard, duct tape, and shellac, 20 by 13 by 11 inches) 

LongTall, 2021, (Wood, bamboo, dried gourd, vinyl, ink, acrylic paint, 25.5 by 12 by 12 inches)

LongTall, 2021 (Wood, bamboo, dried gourd, vinyl, ink, acrylic paint, 25.5 by 12 by 12 inches)

SweePea, 2022 (Wood, found natural objects, rubber gloves, spray foam, paint, ink, 29 by 22 by 12 inches)

SweePea, 2022 (Wood, found natural objects, rubber gloves, spray foam, paint, ink, 29 by 22 by 12 inches)

Some Kinda Wonderful, 2022 (Wood, found natural objects, spray foam, paint, ink, 44 by12 by 14 inches)

Some Kinda Wonderful, 2022 (Wood, found natural objects, spray foam, paint, ink, 44 by12 by 14 inches)

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Sterritt’s work is included in public and private collections, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. She has received a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a City of Los Angeles Individual Artist Fellowship (COLA) grant, a J. Paul Getty Trust Fund for the Visual Arts/California Community Foundation award, and a National Endowment for the Arts grant, among others. You can read more about Sterritt on her website, and follow her on Instagram, @coleen.sterritt

If you are an Otis alumnx who would like to be featured in a future spotlight, please let us know here.