Walter Maciel Gallery is pleased to present new work by Oakland based artist Lisa Solomon. The show includes new stitched, graphite and mixed media drawings and marks Solomon’s first solo show at the gallery. Her work was first introduced in 2008 in the three person exhibition Pattern Redefined.
Within her new series Solomon explores her heritage both personally and historically within thoughtfully rendered mixed media collage drawings organized into four distinct series that intersect under the premise of migration. The first grouping depicts portraits of the artist and her immediate family using collaged paper, stitched thread, drawn line and felt cutouts. Rather than representing each person in a figurative gesture, Solomon creates the portraits using geographic information based on each person’s migration from one location to the next as well as information relating to each person’s interests and personality. For instance, the drawing Ocasan shows the history and mapping of her mother’s life journey from Japan to the US. At the top of the drawing red threads track the miles between the two cities her mother lived in Japan (which is faintly painted in white). A series of pin pricks indicates the miles traveled to California. An image of an abacus clues into the calculation of the actual miles while an image of poppy flowers references the state as well as Solomon’s mother as an avid gardener. The series also details the life experience of herself from Southern to Northern California, her husband from Boston to California, her father from the Midwest to California via Japan and her grandparents who were both born into Jewish immigrant families.
The second series exists as 38 individual black graphite drawings on graph paper configured into a grid installation. Each drawing includes a unique version of a color chart perhaps alluding to the different colors that may have been used to complete the work. The grids of color stem from Solomon’s experience teaching color theory at California College of the Arts. Initially these drawings were made as quick studies to be used as information in the portrait series but as they evolved the relationships between each piece became more interesting as a complete group. All of the subjects personally relate to Solomon and her interests: some represent places she has been while other are objects that have meaning to her. Many of these renderings are direct representations of photos juxtaposed with iconic subjects such as state birds and flowers. The third series comments on a more macro view of migration in which Solomon researched topics that related directly to her Japanese heritage. In WWII the Japanese developed and launched 9300 FU-GO’s balloon bombs from six launching pads to be sent via jet streams. While mostly ineffective with only six lives lost, the government was highly effective in keeping these attacks quiet to avoid panic. The US press cooperated and thus the Japanese stopped the launches six months after they started. The series consists of a felt map of the US detailing all of the locales where collected parts and pieces of balloon bombs landed in the lower 48 states. Referencing traditional red dotted lines used in historical war books to indicated bomb targets on maps, the drawings are rendered in a similar red to represent the jet streams and the distances that the bombs actually traveled from various launching cities to the locales in the US. The red is also intentionally reminiscent of the red circle of the Japanese flag.
Lastly, the fourth series depicts the migration of radiation surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant over the span of a year. Solomon has family that still resides in that region (as well as friends scattered all through Japan) and found herself continually wondering about the effects of the radiation fall out. Using embroidery to map radiation readings the colors used and the length of the stitch indicate the relevant “safety” of the amount of radiation. There are four drawings showing readings 5 days, 1 month, 6 months and 1 year from the March 11, 2011 earthquake. Alongside these drawings will be an installation of a crochet doily color key.
Solomon did her undergraduate studies at UC Berkeley and received her MFA from Mills College. She is an adjunct professor at San Francisco State University and has taught in the past at California State University, East Bay and California College of the Arts. Solomon recently had her first solo show in Europe at Nicoletta Rusconi Gallery in Milan. Last year she was included in the Cheongju International Craft Biennale in Seoul and in 2007 she presented a beautiful installation at the Koumi Museum in Nagano, Japan. Her most recent solo show in Southern California was entitled where have all the trees gone at Angel’s Gate in San Pedro.