Institute for Figuring’s Crocheted Sculptures ‘Steal the Show’ at Beacon Arts Building

Hyperbolic Coral Reef

Closeup of crochet corals by Dagnija Grienzne from the Latvian Reef. © Institute For Figuring 2010

The Loop Show at the Beacon Arts Building in Los Angeles features 19 artists—including CalArts faculty member Christine Wertheim and alumna Miyoshi Barosh (Art MFA 89)—who created works using cast-off and discarded materials for their sculptures, installations, paintings, photos and collages.

Wertheim, who teaches in the MFA Writing Program at CalArts, is co-director of the Institute for Figuring (IFF), an educational organization that enhances the public’s understanding of figures and figuring techniques. “From the physics of snowflakes and the hyperbolic geometry of sea slugs, to the mathematics of paper folding and graphical models of the human mind, the Institute takes as its purview a complex ecology of figuring.”

One IFF project—a crocheted coral reef—has received international recognition, and has been exhibited at The Science Gallery in Dublin, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., and at Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New Y0rk.

In a vein similar to the reef, two large large plastic coral sculptures, made from discarded plastic rubbish, made an impression on Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight when he recently reviewed The Loop Show:

The tour de force that steals the show, however, is a pair of elaborate constructions by the Institute for Figuring, a collaborative group led by twin sisters Margaret and Christine Wertheim.

Like Mardi Gras costumes shaking their bon-bons atop pedestals, the crenelated sculptures virtually demand attention. One primarily black, the other mostly white, the densely worked sculptures are intricately ruffled mounds of crocheted plastic bags and cellophane interwoven with twist ties, soda can pop-tops, medicine blister packs, drinking straws and other flotsam. Trash never looked so elegant and sparkly…

The sculptures are like force fields drawing you into their orbit, catalysts for a network of social interactions that mimics a reef’s. It’s as if tiny chunks of the immense Great Pacific Garbage Patch — that huge, swirling mass of debris that formed in rotational ocean currents north of Hawaii — had been reconfigured for constructive rather than destructive purposes. Gorgeous, absurd and socially productive, these are rare works of art that you long to see ceremoniously dumped into the ocean.

Other artists in The Loop Show are Thomas Deininger, Amy Drezner, Mark Dutcher, Doug Harvey, Anne Hieronymus, Elisabeth Higgins O’Connor, Robert Larson, John Luckett, Nuttaphol Ma, Stephen McCabe, William Ransom, Dustin Shuler, Don Suggs, Ann Weber, Alexis Zoto and Loop Show curator China Adams.

The exhibition has its closing reception on Sunday, Jan. 15 from 1-4 pm, and includes a gallery walk-through and talk with a few of the participating artists.

The Loop Show
at Beacon Arts Building
808 N. La Brea Ave., Inglewood, Calif.
Through Jan. 15

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