To imagine the transparency of Relation is also to justify the opacity of what impels it. The sacred is of us, of this network, of our wandering, our errantry.
– Poetics of Relation by Édouard Glissant
To be an artist in Southern California is to be engaged in one of the most vibrant, diverse, creative communities in the world. Geographically expansive, the region sprawls from the desert to the ocean over mountain ranges and valleys. It is the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Tongva-Gabrieliño Native American tribal nations. Palos Verdes Art Center sits on the Palos Verdes Peninsula extendinginto the Pacific, the world’s largest and deepest of the Earth’s ocean basins.
This exhibition comes upon us at a moment: Post Covid-19 pandemic, and fraught withawareness of anthropogenic changes in the earth’s land, ocean, biosphere and climate,(geo) political tension, and skepticism of AI-technology and social media. Many of these students spent some part of their education in remote learning environments and this was the first full year of in-person learning. In that transition and this environment, comes a grappling with relation — reaching out and being in community, understanding how one sees themself, and how others see them. At the same time, they are locating and contextualizing their practices and identities in broader conceptual discourses.
It has been a great honor to serve as juror and to have the opportunity to witness the spectrum of artwork being produced by Southern California’s art schools. In reviewing the work, I was struck by the way students are exploring themes of identity, relationship to nature, and broader systems of ecology and society. A strong throughline is the exploration of identity through materiality. I also saw themes of human and non-human representation through figuration and photorealism. Ideas around the body and abstraction are also emergent. But above all, I found feelings — of hope, gratitude, and excitement — in how these artists are allowing themselves to be vulnerable and build trust with their processes to tell their own important stories.
The artworks selected here push the boundaries of their disciplines to arrive at a feeling and mirror something about our collective human experience — how meaning is embodied through artmaking. I would like to thank Palos Verdes Art Center, Dr. O. Allen Alpay, and all of the incredibly talented students who submitted work for the Now Trending: 7th Annual Alpay Scholarship Exhibition
Jeanne Medina Le