Hana Ward: How To Build Up Worn Out Soils | Velia De Iuliis: Perspection
3301 W Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90018
Saturday, May 6 at 4:00 PM 7:00 PM
Ends Jun 17, 2023
OCHI is proud to present How To Build Up Worn Out Soils, an exhibition of paintings and ceramics by artist Hana Ward. This is the artist’s third solo exhibition with the gallery. How To Build Up Worn Out Soils will be on view at OCHI, located at 3301 W Washington Boulevard in Los Angeles, California from May 6 through June 17, 2023. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, May 6th from 4:00 to 7:00 PM PST. Borrowing from George Washington Carver’s pamphlet of the same name, How To Build Up Worn Out Soils speaks to a theme Ward has been mining in her work for years: self-determination and transformation despite limited resources. In the wake of those overlapping pandemics—Covid, climate anxiety, and the resurgence of old rage about persistent systemic racism, Ward reached for books to help gain perspective. Her study found her at the intersection of Black land justice and spirituality. Freedom Farmers by Monica M. White (2018), Leah Penniman’s Farming While Black (2018) and Tricia Hersey’s Rest Is Resistance: A Manifesto (2022) sowed the seeds and How To Build Up Worn Out Soils represents a harvest—the yield from a particular season of reading, meditating, praying, and then painting and sculpting. Like many of Ward’s titles, this one is polysemous—worn out soils refers to both our minds and our environments. Ward considers the ways subsistence farming has historically provided a path toward Black socio-political self-determination, and that self-determination, a catalyst for self-possession. Ward extends this practical labor of place-making and turns it inward to the ethereal, our minds and internal worlds: nurturing the seeds of divinity within each of us, cultivating our energy fields, and enriching our lives in the process. To Ward, Carver and Fannie Lou Hamer inspire beyond their scientific discoveries and community organizing, they demonstrate a progressive understanding of (or relationship with) reality. “I’m interested in what they understood about their own spirit,” says Ward, “and how that influenced how they shaped their own reality.” Ward’s work addresses a concept referred to as other/wise—other, which is to say alternative, ways of knowing [in] the world. Citing Hersey’s question, “how can we access pleasure and joy and liberation if we’re too tired to experience it?” Ward wonders, “when deprivation is used as a tool for oppression, what does it then do to our minds, our psyches, our understandings of reality, to collaborate with the earth to create our own nourishment? What can we yield when we collaborate with others to collectively design systems to thrive in?” With these questions as a foundation for the studio, Ward’s paintings and ceramics honor the long legacy of Black and indigenous contributions to the agricultural canon. Paintings and their titles form a syllabus: beyond Carver, there are references to the indigenous practice of companion planting, Tuskegee University, the Bhagavad Gita, and multiple invocations of Fannie Lou Hamer’s Freedom Farms Cooperative. Ward’s attention to the history of Black farmers in America is timely. A recent lawsuit filed by the National Black Farmers Association* against the USDA makes plain how systematized the obstruction of Black survival is in this country. So, what then- what do we do when we find ourselves seemingly stuck between a rock and a hard place, when no map delineates a route of escape? There are no prescriptions in How To Build Up Worn Out Soils, but Ward proffers a possibility: “You remember that you ARE Spirit. You are connected to Source Energy.” Within ourselves, we transform the soils of our minds, with our communities, we transform the soils of our environments, and in these ways, we remember our own power. Or, as another of Ward’s teachers, Reverend Deborah L. Johnson, puts it: “The slaying happens when the hero realizes that his or her power is greater than the power being projected onto the demon.” —Bethel S. Moges Hana Ward (b. 1989, Los Angeles, CA) received a BA from Brown University in 2011. Ward’s work has been exhibited at venues including Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Harun Gallery, Beyond Baroque, and OCHI in Los Angeles, CA; The FLAG Art Foundation in New York, NY; Mrs. in Queens, NY; The Breeder in Athens, Greece; and Pt. 2 in Oakland, CA. Ward has been the recipient of a 2023 Hayama Artist Residency and a 2017 Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs Artist-in-Residence Grant. Ward’s work has been featured in various publications including Artforum, Frieze, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Financial Times, Amadeus, Artillery Magazine, and AUTRE. Ward currently lives and works in Los Angeles, CA is represented by OCHI. *In conjunction with How To Build Up Worn Out Soils, Hana Ward has created a limited editioned T-shirt to raise funds for The National Black Farmers Association (NBFA), a non-profit organization representing African American farmers and their families in the United States. As an association, it serves tens of thousands of members nationwide. NBFA's education and advocacy efforts have been focused on civil rights, land retention, access to public and private loans, education and agricultural training, and rural economic development for Black and other small farmers. ____ OCHI is pleased to present Perspection, an exhibition of new work by Los Angeles-based artist Velia De Iuliis. This is the artist's second solo exhibition with the gallery. Perspection will be on view at OCHI Aux, located at 3305 W Washington Blvd in Los Angeles, California from May 6 through June 17, 2023. An opening reception will take place on Saturday, May 6th from 4:00 to 7:00 PM PST. With a steadfast commitment to observing and documenting the natural world, Velia De Iuliis’ rich and highly detailed paintings embrace the dynamic manifestations of myriad living species. Ranging from large scale diptychs to intimate tondos, De Iuliis’ work captures the energy and vibrancy within each interwoven flower. Freely mixing categories of floral subjects—thriving and endangered, uncommon and familiar, tropical and temperate—De Iuliis’ paintings celebrate the sublime existence and fleeting temporality of each plant. Building still life montages on abstract backdrops, De Iuliis delicately entwines and poses each petal, leaf, and stem, as she meditates on the complex relationships between humans and their ecosystems. The works included in Perspection are reflective of De Iuliis’ own research into wildlife conservation and the healing properties of plants. Disenchanted by an overwhelming reliance on the pharmaceutical industry in treating and managing ailments as well as the environmental impacts of such global behemoths, De Iuliis shifted focus to natural remedies, herbalism, and alternative therapies. Contemplating interior plant properties helped to develop De Iuliis’ fascination with the visual intricacies, patterns, colors, and forms found in individual specimens, carefully replicating them to capture their fleeting beauty. In the spirit of botanical illustration, De Iuliis proffers a world of mysterious, whimsical, and rare plants that few will have the pleasure to see in their natural habitats. Abstracting her images through unorthodox crops and fractures, De Iuliis draws parallels to these species’ ruptured environments due to deforestation, extraction, development, and pollution. Thin line work connects each species in reference to the invisible threads that weave the destinies of all living beings together. Perspection is a neologism fabricated by the artist that combines perspective, perception, and introspection to highlight the disparity between a late capitalistic view of the environment and a prehuman reality. Inspired by the dramatic illuminations of Caravaggio and naturalistic yet highly symbolic 16th century Dutch still life paintings, each of De Iuliis’ works are composed to enchant. Commingling narrative, pleasure, and environmentalism harmoniously, Perspection illustrates the splendor found in the backyard and beyond. Velia de Iuliis (b.1990, New York, NY) received her BFA from in Illustration from the California College of the Arts in San Francisco, CA in 2013. De Iuliis’ work has been exhibited at Artist Republic Gallery in Laguna Beach, CA; Maeght Gallery in San Francisco, CA; Antonio Colombo Arte Contemporanea Gallery in Milan, Italy; and OCHI in Los Angeles, CA and Sun Valley, ID. De Iuliis is the recipient of the 2019 Lincoln Residency in Bisbee, AZ. She currently lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.
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