Fullerton, CA Stepping into the small white-walled space in the gallery at Fullerton College, I immediately notice bright colored lights shining through out of the corner of my eye, and in front of me a giant pointed pile of brightly colored shreds lying on a short pedestal that reminds me of candy. The Paper Cuts show caught my attention at first because of the well-executed logo design on the invitation card, but kept my interest as soon as I read the list of artists. Who would have thought that a community college art gallery in Fullerton would demand attention from such artists as Kara Walker, Pae White, Mark Wagner, Takahiro Yamamoto, Chris Natrop, Jen Stark, Wangechi Mutu, Brian Dittmer, Heather McGill, and David Adey?
Mark Wagner’s currency collages are visually enticing at first glance because of the recognizable monetary references, but at a closer look, the intense skill he implements in cutting up actual dollar bills and formulating them into provocative compositions just leaves the viewer in awe of such mastery.
David Adey’s cut out portrait of Mischa Barton caught my attention as it referenced traditional body art, while making me think of the female body issues dealt with in celebrity culture. deconstructing the body as I deconstruct the society that this imaginary "perfect" being has been made from.
I also really enjoyed the colored paper slices of Jen Stark as they referenced psychedelic wood slices and candy-coated electrodes in cool world.
I really enjoyed the teeny tiny jars filled with small scenes of trees, ladders, and paper remnants by Takahiro Yamamoto. Made me feel like I was visiting a doll's world, with big adventures ahead of me... A Grand Canyon for miniature pedestal-climbers, with small tombs on top of each pedestal-peak, housing remains of people and places that meant something to someone.
The physical layout of the exhibition was interesting from a curatorial stand point, but a little confusing as there was not a clear path that the viewer must follow as he/she walked through the space. Each piece seemed to be so powerful on their own that together in one exhibit they competed for attention. Looking into the gallery space from the front of the room the image they were trying to achieve was clear – shapes and colors complementing each other, and a corridor down the center that led to the giant colored-paper chandelier.
The Kara Walker piece was small and unassuming, but clearly a “Kara Walker”...
A small book with her signature cut out silhouettes illustrating a story of a slave girl (1 out of an edition of 4000). I thought it was interesting when speaking with curator Beth Solomon, that the acquisition of the Kara Walker book, because just as the book was placed in a small Plexiglas box, prohibiting the viewers from touching or turning the pages as it felt appropriate Kara Walker was also hard to get a hold of, hard to connect with. Solomon said she had been working on the exhibit for 19 months, and Kara Walker’s reps in New York were all but accommodating. Solomon even mentioned that Kara Walker probably didn’t even know she had a piece shown in the exhibit – with the gallery ego left in place of enthusiastic participation.
All in all Paper Cuts is an exhibit full of amazing paper work-- surprising for such a small space in an unassuming community college gallery. I highly recommend catching a peek at this show on its last day Thursday Feb 24th. I definitely will check out future exhibits by this gallery and curator.
Evan A. Senn contributing writer and founder of rarwart.com