CalArts alum Lauren Halsey (Art BFA 12) celebrates her first major New York City solo show with her self-titled exhibition at David Kordansky Gallery’s new Chelsea location, running now until June 11. Halsey’s show, which inaugurated the new gallery on May 6, was recently covered by Robin Pogrebin for The New York Times.
In the article, gallerist and fellow CalArtian David Kordansky (Art MFA 2002) noted that he was “wowed” by Halsey’s work at the 2018 Made in LA biennial, for which she received the prestigious Mohn Award. In 2020, his gallery presented Halsey’s work for the first time, displaying what the artist referred to as a “taxidermy” of South Central LA’s businesses. Kordansky was quoted in the article as referring to Halsey as “one of the most important contemporary artists to come out of Los Angeles, California, in the last decade.”
On display are 14 new works, including various installations, large-scale sculptures, and even a series of new hieroglyphic engravings that pay homage to her South Central Los Angeles neighborhood. Among these is the mixed-media work My Hope (pictured above), a vibrant box sculpture designed like a bustling Los Angeles street.
“I’m an obsessive collector of objects, of images — scanning the streets,” Halsey told The New York Times when discussing her exhibition works. “I’ve been collecting as long as I could breathe.”
More about the exhibition from the show’s official release:
Halsey imagines new possibilities for art, architecture, and community engagement. Combining found, fabricated, and handmade objects, her work maintains a sense of civic urgency and free-flowing imagination, addressing crucial issues confronting Black people, queer populations, and the working class. Critiques of gentrification and disenfranchisement are accompanied by real-world proposals as well as celebration of on-the-ground aesthetics. This exhibition will highlight Halsey’s visionary, collaborative ethos, and will include new examples from several bodies of work. Among them are funkmound sculptures, including one with a functioning waterfall; twelve-foot-tall, hand-painted columns; wall-based sculptures composed using synthetic hair; wall-based reliefs on Hydro-Stone, gypsum, and foil supports; and sculptures constructed from stacked, painted boxes that evoke the signs and symbols of neighborhood life, as well as a new type of box sculpture that channels the vivid energy of a streetscape.
Quoted in the Times article is School of Art faculty Charles Gaines, with whom Halsey studied at CalArts: “She’s not trying to unpack notions of racism, she’s just trying to celebrate Blackness. She’s trying to bring into the realm of art things that are thought to be low culture, things that are victimized by a certain stereotype.”
The profile also highlighted Halsey’s singular impact as a contemporary artist-activist, and noted her greatest creative influences, among whom are fellow CalArtians Mike Kelley (Art MFA 78), Mark Bradford (Art BFA 95, MFA 97), and 1995 CalArts honorary degree recipient Betye Saar.
Read more at The New York Times.