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Art Department's News and Events

Inès Kivimäki & Anna Wittenberg

Current Art Department MFA Inès Kivimäki & former MFA Anna Wittenberg currently have a 2 person show at Phase Gallery in Los Angeles called DUMMY. 

Open from 2/25/23 – 2/25/23. 

1718 Albion Street
Los Angeles, CA 90031

Open Monday-Thursday 10-6. 


Press Release:

Pasta con le Sarde, or ways of screaming 

By Julia Tcharfas

The day is almost over and I am in my kitchen making pasta. In the background, a BBC programme murmurs along with the sauce. The voice on the radio is speaking of coffins. Specifically, the broadcaster is tracing the invention of the safety coffin, a communication technology that shares its origins with the likes of the Morse code, the Bell telephone, and the Marconi radio — all, in one way or another, emanating from a call for help.  

The design of the safety coffin, according to the serene British voice on the radio, emerged in the early decades of the 19th century, and promised to safeguard against the horrors of a premature burial. The device was simple: strings would be tied to all four limbs of the departed, then wired through the earth, and connected to a bell mounted on the headstone. In the event that the interred was mistakenly buried alive, their flailing limbs would set off the alarm. More often, though, the friction of the decomposing body triggered the bell to toll. You can almost hear it: an English courtyard cemetery’s peaceful air disturbed by the chiming of the bells carrying messages from beyond the grave.

My water comes to a boil, and I slide the spaghetti into the pot. I check the package instructions for the cooking time (ten minutes, until al dente) and ask Siri to set a timer. Siri, ever the efficient assistant, acknowledges the request and the timer begins its silent countdown. Each moment drawing the spaghetti closer to its metamorphosis from stiff rods to delicate tendrils, like strings in the hands of a ventriloquist. 

Back on the radio they are reciting Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, “The Premature Burial” in which the narrator finds himself confined within a coffin in a ghastly nightmare. “I endeavored to shriek—, and my lips and my parched tongue moved convulsively together in the attempt—but no voice issued from the cavernous lungs…” He flails in search for the bell rope to yell on his behalf, at the same moment as my pasta timer sounds the alarm. Soon to be lost to the pleasure of a Pasta con le Sarde, the radio’s musings on corpse marionettes subside into the depths of my subconsciousness.

After dinner my thoughts turn to Siri, the digital assistant that I occasionally summon as my chronometrist, to time the boiling of pasta, the coagulation of a soft runny egg, the scanty interstices of a work lunch. Aside from these simple tasks, Siri remains silent, discreetly updating in the background. For some though, Siri has become a member of the household. The artist Inès Kivimäki lives in Echo Park with her fiancé, and Siri. Waking up, they ask Siri about the weather, the hour, and also the news. They start their calls by prompting Siri, then avail themselves of her computational abilities to choose sculptural materials, or camera lenses for the day’s work. When driving, they employ Siri as their cicerone, soliciting her recommendations for restaurants and other points of interest in the area. Finally, as sleep approaches, they instruct Siri to wake them at a designated time.

The disembodied voice transmitted wirelessly through the airwaves, possessed a phantasmagorical quality when it first entered the acoustic realm of the home. Siri’s voice, emanating from an array of computer orifices, is a curious new manifestation of domesticated aural illusion. What makes Siri unnerving is not the substance of her conversation, but rather her ability to listen and respond. The disquieting aspect lies in getting you to speak to her, forging an unlikely relationship with the realm of the lifeless, an inanimate object training to learn the intricacies of your speech patterns and desires. 

As an artist, Kivimäki wanted to dispel the enchantment of Siri’s carefully crafted, synthetic speech and set out to form a relationship with Susan Bennett, the human whose voice was harnessed by computer programmers to generate Siri. Bennett’s voice makes a notable appearance in Kivimäki’s new video, Water Mother (2023) – a split screen with a dizzying kaleidoscope of AI generated images. 

Halfway through the video, Bennett is heard reading from a translation of a Finnish poem called “Kalevala” that chronicles the creation of the earth. Here the voice is instantly recognizable, even for someone who does not habitually use Siri. Kivimäki accentuates the delicate transformations from machine to human by conferring Bennett with the autonomy of her own voice, breath, and inflection. Siri is suddenly imbued with a new and vivid life. 

A newborn will emit a cry in the native language of its mother, or in the tongue whose melody and rhythm were the constant and dominant echoes that permeated the womb. Kivimäki wonders if her interminable car journeys guided by the artificial voice of Siri may shape the intonations of her future offspring’s cries. Shall some infants, like Nabokov’s ill-fated Professor Pnin, lament and sigh in Russian, while others express their misery in the metallic timbre of the new robotic era? 

Cries and sighs are full of breath, something that was deliberately edited out of Bennett’s voice when Siri was designed. Siri, like other robots and avatars, Frankenstein’s monsters, and wooden puppets brought to life are all fathered creations. Shaped by the hand, they emerge in a state devoid of the delicate sensitivities that accompany a full and formative life. 

A puppet is a clumsy facsimile of existence. Take the wooden marionette, cobbled together from shards of kindling, and named Pierrot. Shapeshifting through the history of stage and screen, he is now the protagonist of Anna Wittenberg’s video, Pierrot in the Air Horn, Act I: Wind Tunnel (2023). Bound with strings in the shape of a stick figure, like a reanimated corpse, he moves manipulated by cloaked puppeteers. Mute, he conveys his thoughts and emotions through gesture, the comedic timing of the pantomime, and through the sound effects of inanimate objects, like the cry of the bell. 

This particular Pierrot is taking a walk inside of an airhorn of unrealistic proportions. It is a monumental edifice that Wittenberg likens to the tower of Babel. The chamber emits the occasional blast of a distant gale, a mournful reminder of the world outside. Most sound, however, emanates from the gadgets and devices strewn throughout the airhorn’s innards. They are clear plastic objects found scattered around Wittenberg’s studio and turned into kinetic sculptures that thump and knock propelled by the wind. In the clicking bits of plastics, the whooshing cogs, the flapping ribbons, Wittenberg is coding a message that speaks to the distance that separates us from our environment. Only the words of the contraptions’ message are lost on us, as indecipherable as the languages once spoken in the shadow of the tower of Babel or the crackling static of an early radio transmission.

The mime and the clown, those tragic figures of the silent stage, find their voice in the blare of the airhorn, a sound that reverberates in place of sighs, gasps, laughs, and cries. Inanimate objects become the vessels for messages from the departed, their silent whispers imprinted on the material world. The dead summon the living with the ringing of a bell, a spectral voice echoing through the empty air. So, with a sense of macabre curiosity, I invoke the most sophisticated technology to mimic the most primal tinge of human expression.

“Hey, Siri?” I say. 

The virtual assistant is summoned and says a nonchalant, “Uhuh?” 

“Can you scream?” I ask. 

“I’m not sure I understand.” Hangs her reply. 

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Lynne Marsh

Art Department Faculty member and Chair Lynne Marsh has a recent review of an exhibition at the University at Buffalo Art Galleries. The review can be found at Hyperallergic here.

Bringing together new and recent works by 17 international artists, I don’t know you like that: The Bodywork of Hospitality invites us to consider how hospitality has simultaneously defined and confined what we think bodies are, what we imagine they can do, how we feel they relate, whom we believe they can encounter, and ultimately, how they engage with each other and in the world.
Punctuating both floors of the gallery’s spaces, printed wallpaper wraps itself around 5 walls, highlighting architectural features of the space. The 5 Atlas_ works on view turn the raw image-data harvested for volumetric video capture—also called two-dimensional image maps or atlases—into wallpaper, an astute strategy that brings critical attention to the violence that is at the core of digital imaging: 3D asset construction flattens out and tear bodies into sections. 
Images credits:

Installation view of I don’t know you like that: The Bodywork of Hospitality, Center for the Arts Gallery, University at Buffalo Art Galleries. Left to right: Lynne Marsh, “Atlas_Jobel” (2021), digital print on wall paper, dimensions variable (courtesy the artist); Rodney McMillian, “Untitled (Entrails),” detail (2019–20), fabric, chicken wire, acrylic, meat hooks, and chain, 118 x 22.5 x 52.5 inches (courtesy the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles); Lynne Marsh, “Atlas_Cecilia” (2021), digital print on wall paper, dimensions variable (courtesy the artist; image courtesy University at Buffalo Art Galleries; photo: Biff Henrich/IMG-INK)

“Atlas_Abriel” (2021) tile for wallpaper print 

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Merideth Hillbrand

Former MFA Merideth Hillbrand has a solo exhibition entitled Tender at New Low gallery in Los Angeles. 

February 11-March 25th, 2023. 

705 South Rampart Boulevard
Los Angeles, California, USA 90057



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Mark McKnight

Former MFA, Mark McKnight, who has recently been hired as a tenure track professor at Rutgers has organized an exhibition at Suzanne Vielmetter Gallery in Los Angeles. 


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Josh Schaedel

Former UCR MFA, Josh Schaedel had a recent exhibition at No Moon LA.

Josh Schaedel Store Front
October 25th – November 20th, 2022

Opening Tuesday October 25th 6 – 9 PM

Born: Los Alamitos, CA
November 10, 1981 2:46 am

Sun: Scorpio 17° 57’
Moon: Aries 26° 53’
Venus: Capricorn 5° 02′

On November 10th, 1981 Jupiter and Pluto trailed behind Josh Schaedel, as he made his first appearance tucked in the arms of the night. Pluto’s Greek name is Hades, meaning ‘the Unseen’. The god was said to possess a helmet that made the wearer mist-like and undetectable. As a symbol, Jupiter expands what it touches, and so, Schaedel bore with him into this world an awareness attuned to the invisible as well as an ability to give voice to the void.
Standing at the door of Schaedel’s work you are looking both through and at something. Schaedel and the world seem to regard each other similarly. He shares with the viewer his grievance. It frustrates the eyes to not be able to rest or hold something in focus. It frustrates the heart to not be witnessed faithfully as well.

’Store Front’ opens on October 25 as the moon steps in front of the sun, forming a Solar Eclipse in the sky. It is considered a potent and far reaching symbol of change. Here on earth, mirroring this planetary shift, Schaedel’s photograph steps in front of the gallery, not just transforming the exterior, but also punctuating the numinous hollow of the interior.


– Marty Windahl

Josh Schaedel has had solo exhibitions at Leroy’s Happy Place in Chinatown, Outback Art House, and Visitor’s Welcome Center/Arm-Gallery. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Art Center College of Design and Masters of Fine Arts from University of California Riverside. He is the founder and director of the Fulcrum Press & Gallery.




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Pui Tiffany Chow

Pui Tiffany Chow has a wonderful and ambitious solo exhibition up now at Parker Gallery in Los Angeles. 

Parker Gallery is proud to present Hurly-Burly, a solo exhibition by Pui Tiffany Chow, her first solo gallery exhibition. Through pointed art historical references, Chow’s paintings examine the female form and the capacity for the canvas to stage them. For her show at Parker Gallery, Chow will exhibit large-scale arched canvases depicting female figures alongside smaller-scale renderings of ribbons and blankets on linen. Chow synthesizes Eastern and Western touchstones of visual culture throughout the ages, from Renaissance frescoes to popular Disney and Japanese animation. The arched shape of her canvases recall classical religious architecture, channeling the historical power of art as propaganda. The motifs in Chow’s ribbon paintings originate in the work of Jean Honoré Fragonard, yet their style is drawn from the color and allure of Sailor Moon cartoons. Traditional Chinese artistic philosophy considers emptiness to be balancing, and Chow employs this theory by omitting dimensional space within the canvas. Beyond the figurative elements in her work, Chow allows only raw linen or black voids rendered with dramatically light absorbing Black 3.0 paint. This type of formation can also be traced back to Henri Matisse’s 1905 painting Le Bonheur de Vivre in which entirely independent motifs are arranged to form a complete composition. In Chow’s work, the figures are similarly self-contained, like captivating performers on an empty proscenium stage. In contrast to the dainty objects of desire in historic masterworks by male artists, Chow’s female figures are massively obtrusive and alien, barely contained by the confines of the canvas. The scale of the figures in relationship to the canvas is directly influenced by the anatomy of Jacopo da Pontormo’s c.1528 painting Visitation, yet Chow’s figures are unpredictable, each a stylistic departure from the last. Chow renders her subjects in wide-ranging tones, from acidic yellows to deep and lush maroons, envisioning them as discrete conduits to other paintings, explicitly borrowing gestural devices from painters such as Mary Heilmann, Charline von Heyl and Georg Baselitz. The multiplicity of references in Chow’s work coalesce classical forms into something queer and abstract, transforming the familiar into an energetic and disorienting sensation. PARKER GALLERY 2441 Glendower Ave Los Angeles, CA 90027 HURLY-BURLY PUI TIFFANY CHOW November 6–December 23, 2022


Pui Tiffany Chow (b. 1987, Hong Kong) immigrated to the US after the Handover of Hong Kong from the British government and now lives and works in Los Angeles. Pui has participated in exhibitions at Galerie Anne Barrault, Paris (2022), Phase Gallery, Los Angeles (2022), Pomona College Chan Gallery, Claremont (2022), After Hours Gallery, Los Angeles (2022), Gravy Gallery, Santa Cruz (2022), One Trick Pony, Los Angeles (2021), Kylin Gallery, Los Angeles (2021), ArtCenter DTLA, Los Angeles (2020), UCLA New Wight Gallery, Los Angeles (2019), Culver Center of the Arts, Riverside, CA (2019) and Riverside Art Museum, Riverside, CA (2018). PARKER GALLERY 2441 Glendower Ave Los Angeles, CA 90027


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David Gilbert

David Gilbert (UCR MFA 2011) has a solo show at Chris Sharp Gallery.

David Gilbert’s photography can be situated in the unique crossroads of sculpture, drawing, painting, assemblage, installation, and image reproduction. Using these various media, Gilbert stages and photographs mise-en-scènes in the studio which variously and indeterminately read as traces of action, aftermath, something in progress, or finally, some kind of incident, accidentally perceived. Characterized by a sense of open-ended mystery and adumbration, the work willfully embraces ambiguity as a generative, queer position. Its quasi-Victorian quality of metaphor and suggestion feels incredibly fresh and fertile in the literal and taxonomical explicitness of our moment. It’s as if Gilbert turns the least subtle of artistic media and the one most readily associated with pornography– photography– on its head and revels in its capacity for erotic evocation. Thus it is no mere coincidence that the work is distinctly, if drolly reminiscent of the work of the 17th century Dutch painter, Johannes Vermeer. Gilbert’s images gracefully teem with draped curtains, window-sourced lighting, and a soft, accidental voyeurism. Shadows function as compositional and narrative devices, which help create the contemplative and melancholic mood of the photos while also inevitably reflecting on the indexical and intrinsically haunted nature of photography. In the case of Gilbert, a photography haunted by the absence of bodies, muted longing, and loss.

David Gilbert (b.1982, New York; lives and works in Los Angeles.)

David Gilbert received his MFA from UC Riverside (2011) and his BFA from The Department of Photography and Imaging at Tisch, NYU (2004). His work has been shown nationally and internationally including solo exhibitions at Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery, New York; Rebecca Camacho Presents, San Francisco; 12.26, Dallas; Del Vaz Projects and The Finley, Los Angeles. His work is in the permanent collection of LACMA and has been written about in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Art in America, XTRA Magazine, BOMB, and Art Review. In the February 2019 issue of Artforum, Wayne Koestenbaum wrote Gilbert is “a photographer whose beat is the afterlife as it takes place now, in this studio, this room, among these bedclothes and paint stains and wigs and strings” in a feature about his work.

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Amir Zaki

UC Riverside Art Department professor Amir Zaki has a new survey monograph spanning 23 years of work. 

Co-published by X Artists’ Books and  DoppelHouse Press, Amir Zaki’s Building + Becoming brings together 272 pages of full-color work by the California-based hyperrealist photographer, accompanied by an interview with curator and writer Corrina Peipon and an essay co-authored by critics Jennifer Ashton and Walter Benn Michaels.

Building + Becoming is a sculptural monograph, designed as a double gatefold that opens to a full width of roughly forty inches, allowing the reader to explore both sets of images and texts in different combinations. The multiple series by Zaki captured within these sets address the built and the natural, including rocks, carvings, suspended landscapes, and manipulated California beach architecture. Like his skateparks, these environments are uncannily quiet and devoid of people.

Corrina Peipon’s interview with Zaki explores the artist’s personal history and concerns about photography and technology. “I am interested in the attraction and repulsion that a photograph which depicts something familiar and unfamiliar, initially welcoming yet somewhat alienating, can elicit in a viewer and me. I am looking for a kind of strangeness within the commonplace. Ultimately, I use digital technology as a means to an end. I am trying to make photographs that manifest the world I desire.”

Jennifer Ashton and Walter Benn Michaels’ essay offers insight into Zaki’s manipulation of space through “evenness,” which is accomplished by creating a perfectly technically focused object: “The point is not that the pictures overcome physical limits, but that they violate the logic of our eyesight.” Referencing the history of landscape and modern photography in California, Michaels and Ashton show that Zaki’s insistence on marrying technology seamlessly with this tradition results in continuity, an “addition through subtraction” of the third dimension.

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John Divola

Distinguished Professor John Divola has a solo exhibition in New York at Yancey Richardson Gallery from April 16th-May 21st

Press Release:

Yancey Richardson is pleased to present Swimming Drunk, an exhibition of photographs by John Divola. The exhibition includes two photographic series that represent the breadth of the artist’s more than 40 year career: Zuma Series (1977-1978), and Daybreak (2015-2020). Both series are a result of Divola’s engagement with abandoned buildings, and his interest in transforming a situation through photography. Thus, the photographs do not serve as mere descriptions of the scenes depicted but instead are offered as artifacts from the artist’s physical and experiential interventions within these environments.

 In the late seventies, Divola came across an abandoned property on Zuma Beach in Southern California. The building was repeatedly burned and damaged in various ways by the fire department who used it for training exercises and practice drills. Over the course of a year, Divola returned on numerous occasions to photograph the site, making additions to the interior with paint and graffiti, augmented by others’ vandalism, decay from natural elements, and the passage of time.

Divola describes Zuma Series (1977-1978),  as “a product of [his] involvement with an evolving situation…my acts, my painting, my photographing, my considering, are part of, not separate from, this process of evolution and change.” His willingness to physically intervene with his surroundings, combined with his bold use of color, marked Divola’s departure from the status quo in an era that prized the neutrality of predominantly black and white documentary photography.  

Daybreak (2015-2020) is a result of Divola’s long term engagement with the abandoned housing complex at the decommissioned George Air Force Base in Victorville, California. In this series, Divola explores the way in which light illuminated the space, photographing primarily at dawn. By adopting the analog format of 8×10 silver gelatin contact prints for the series, Divola calls attention to the photographs as physical manifestations of his engagement in the site. Indeed, as the artist has said, “each photograph represents an index of multiple gestures. The design of the architect, the labor of the builders, the traces of past occupants… [Divola’s] own painting and installations, and ultimately [his] gestures of selection.” And it is from this multiplicity of meaning that the photographs derive their power, resisting easy categorization or interpretation as Divola embraces “the messy complexity” of photography.

Born in Los Angeles in 1949, Divola earned a BA from California State University, Northridge in 1971 and an MA from University of California, Los Angeles, where he studied under photographer Robert Heinecken. Since 1975 he has taught photography and art at numerous institutions including California Institute of the Arts (1978-1988), and since 1988 he has been a Professor of Art at the University of California, Riverside.

Since 1975, Divola’s work has been featured in numerous solo exhibitions throughout the world. In 2013, a three-venue retrospective of Divola’s work titled As Far As I Could Get took place at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Pomona College Museum of Art, and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Further solo museum exhibitions include the Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Nebraska, 2019, and the Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, California, 2019. His work can be found in major public collections worldwide, including Centre Pompidou, Paris; Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England; and The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY. Among Divola’s Awards are Individual Artist Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (1973, 1976, 1979, 1990), a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship (1986), a Fintridge Foundation Fellowship (1998), a City of Los Angeles Artist Grant (1999) and a California Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship (1998).

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