The Big Embrace

1206 Maple Ave., #832
Sep 04, 6 PM - 10 PM — ends Oct 02, 2021
Curated by Valerie Wilcox
Co-curators: Joe Davidson and Ty Pownall
Artists: Flora Kao, Rebecca Niederlander, and Amanda Yamashita

Durden and Ray presents The Big Embrace, an exhibition of site-specific installations by three Los Angeles-based artists that heighten our realization of physicality when surrounded by an engrossing, fantastical environment.

The curators from The Big Embrace approach the feeling of disorientation through an immersive experience, showing artists who are able to delay reality and muse about our state of existence. With the use of repetition and everyday, unassuming materials, these artists address ideas about an individual’s association within the larger environment, personal relationships and the body. You enter the space and journey through a world full of abstracted references, where architectural, urban and natural influences collide. Humor and transcendence are invoked in these works with their effortless appearing, yet beguiling and elegantly-crafted quality. On the surface, it may appear to be just about the delight of physically engaging in person again and seeing artwork in an intimate, closeup situation. However, the narratives underlying these artists' works provides a deeper emotional understanding of their experiences during this time.

Flora Kao's installation was inspired by the loss of her grandfather a year ago. In her family’s language, the word for “fishnet” sounds the same as “hope.” Crocheted from common Taiwanese packaging twine, a golden net undulates over a blanket of bamboo leaves. In Buddhist funeral tradition, this sacred color signifies enlightenment and freedom. Bamboo represents strength, tenacity, resilience, and perseverance. Responding to a heartbreaking season of grief and isolation, Hope visualizes the expansive connections that encompass us, allowing us to rise and grow again from the ashes.

Rebecca Niederlander has recently experienced someone very close come out as Transgender. Her piece, Wald-en is a forest of swirling "trees", designed to help you question your place in the world from the perspective of your gender through a meditative enclave that offers seemingly endless variations on the theme. She enthusiastically invites you to recline on the pillows and spend time just being. You may ponder who and what your place is in the universe. Or, perhaps you will simply breathe deeply while being psychically embraced.

Amanda Yamashita creates plush, tangible sculptures that hold a unique physicality. In Linked, each individual form alludes to the body and is repeated to create a mass that gestures toward expansion and transformation. They are internal investigations with external bodies. Yamashita's work exhibits dichotomy: synthetic and organic, heavy and light, small in its parts, but massive in whole. As we celebrate being able to physically embrace one another again, may our shared experiences make our connections even stronger.