Shula Singer Arbel’s Love Hope Memory series uses her family’s photo albums as inspiration. Her faceless figures embody a sense of loss, nostalgia and history–from her early childhood in Israel, to her family’s immigration to the U.S., to growing up in Los Angeles in the 60’s. The distinct characteristics of each figure are distributed across the body—in the crook of an arm, the tilt of the head, the placement of a hand, a gesture, a hairstyle, a garment. The viewer is provided an opportunity to fill in their own narrative and to project their own memories and histories onto the figures. Thus, the paintings tell not only Arbel’s family’s story but a larger, human story. By removing the facial details, Arbel transports her personal history into a shared experience. These figures represent a universal connection of memory, nostalgia and family.
Carla Jay Harris’ series Celestial Bodies is an examination and critique of myth-making, othering and belonging. An on-going series of large-scale mixed media photography, drawing, and illustration on paper, this body of work bridges the gap between myth and reality. As a child of a military father, Harris spent her developmental years living outside the United States – primarily in Italy and Germany. This was a surreal experience that permanently shifted her perception of belonging. Othered by race, language, culture, and nationality, Harris was drawn to mythology. Through myth-making Harris has been able to tap into a sense of belonging that extends from a connection to universal cultural concerns and narratives. As an allegorical retelling of the origin of the universe, the figures in Harris’ compositions connect to our sense of environment, nature and society. It is Harris ultimate hope that works such as these lead to the reimagining of society as more inclusive whole – a society grounded in belonging.
Christina Ramos’ current series, Let’s Play puts her adult subjects into the fantasy world of childhood play. Sometimes rooted in the imagination other times in literal games. The subjects find themselves immersed in environments often nostalgic and beautiful, yet sometimes sinister and mysterious. Ramos finds inspiration in the feeling of childhood joys or fears, or at times reversing societal norms with strong women, and vulnerable men. Whether with a man holding a pink flamingo playing Scavenger hunt, or Miss Scarlett in the conservatory with a knife, the stark backgrounds focus our attention on the meticulous details of the figures expressions and staging. Each painting hinges on your senses, but it is up to the viewer to complete the narrative.