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Examples of "Material Success" exhibition works by artists (from left to right) Connie D.K. Lane, Valerie Wilcox, Linda Smith and Gina Herrera. Their joint show at Mount Saint Mary's Drudis-Biada Art Gallery runs Sept. 12 to Oct. 8, 2016.

Four female sculptors in Southern California unite for ‘Material Success’ exhibition

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 6, 2016 — A new exhibition at Mount Saint Mary’s University showcases four artists working in Southern California who share a philosophy: to fiercely engage with the material world to create something out of what has already been something else. Connie D.K. Lane, Valerie Wilcox, Linda Smith and Gina Herrera work from distinct points of view, but their creations reveal that they all revile the pervasiveness of waste.

The proof is in the joint exhibition “Material Success,which will have an opening reception on Sunday, Sept. 11, from 3 to 5 p.m. at the José Drudis-Biada Art Gallery on Mount Saint Mary’s Chalon Campus. The exhibition runs Sept. 12 to Oct. 8, 2016.

These four artists are unified by their acute concern with the impact of their work on viewers. None of them works in an ivory tower — they are committed to broadening perceptions.

Connie D.K. Lane confronts us with big, heavy, lumpy, perhaps biomorphic things hanging from the ceiling and leaning on the walls. The viewer is enveloped in the sculptural environment. Lane has alluded to memories of skinned carcasses hanging from hooks in the Hong Kong markets of her childhood. Transformations, continuities and inclusions are on her mind: from living things to dead meat to a meal that are all part of the cycle of being — of past, present and future. Her analysis and her production are deeply provocative.  

Valerie Wilcox’s “Constructs” works present a re-imagined understanding of our constructed environment, perceptions of our own identity and how our brain works to piece together diverse constituents. She works in the realm between painterly sculptures and sculptural paintings. Ambiguous shapes hover between a two-dimensional plane and a three-dimensional structure, often nuanced by the effects of light and shadow, thus playing with the idea of space and perception, but not necessarily the reality of it. Appearing as both sculpture and paintings, these “objects in space” emphasize the materials with which they were made as much as the painted surfaces. Wilcox's "Constructs" at once become referential, self-reflexive and whimsical, managing to transcend their base materiality, as her source materials are elevated and imbued with newness of form and function. Prejudice and perception, judgments and acceptance all play a part in her conversation with the viewer.

Linda Smith reveals a sense of play in seemingly childlike constructions in glazed ceramics. Firmly aligned with figurative expression, Smith creates cats, dogs, individual people and couples to express her delight in the detail of the gestures of living things.  She alludes to Greek myth and pays homage to other contemporary artists. She deploys brilliant color to contribute to the humor and goodwill of her pieces, and paints sensitive faces on ceramic that express poignant emotions without sentimentality. Smith’s sensitivity to expression and gesture may derive from an early engagement with film and her work is masterfully realized in clay, that most plastic of materials. She acknowledges the influence of Picasso, Leger and Matisse, and American ceramic artists Viola Frey and Robert Arneson, as well as the Funk movement in Northern California. 

Gina Herrera engages with her mixed American Tesuque Pueblo and Costa Rican heritage, her experience as a soldier in the war in Iraq and her reverence for the earth by using repurposed materials collected everywhere. She has noted that her “greatest objective is to awaken individual and societal consciousness; to examine and heal our relationship with Mother Earth.” Her figures of found thread and clumps of clay suggest clever spirits that occupy our world at her behest. Herrera's work is meant to heal both her and her viewers.

About Mount Saint Mary’s José Drudis-Biada Art Gallery  
The José Drudis-Biada Art Gallery, established in 1974, is located on the University’s Chalon Campus, set in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains, overlooking the L.A. basin and the Santa Monica shoreline. Visit the Gallery at 12001 Chalon Road, Los Angeles, CA, 90049.

“Material Success” is available for viewing Monday through Thursday, and Saturdays, Sept. 12 to Oct. 8, 2016, from noon to 5 p.m. each day. The exhibition’s opening reception is Sunday, Sept. 11, from 3 to 5 p.m. For more info, call 310.954.4360 or visit  

About Mount Saint Mary’s University
Mount Saint Mary’s is the only women’s university in Los Angeles and one of the most diverse in the nation. The University is known nationally for its research on gender equity, its innovative health and science programs, and its commitment to community service. As a leading liberal arts institution, Mount Saint Mary’s provides year-round, flexible and online programs at the undergraduate and graduate level. Weekend, evening and graduate programs are offered to women and men. Mount alums are engaged, active, global citizens who use their knowledge and skills to better themselves, their communities and the world.

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