LOS ANGELES — Loyola Marymount University’s Laband Art Gallery this fall offers an unprecedented survey exhibition of painting, photography, sculpture, video installation and augmented reality by artist Luciana Abait, whose striking works shine a light on the issues of environmental fragility and climate change. “Luciana Abait: On the Verge” includes more than 20 pieces conjuring imaginary worlds that portend global climate catastrophe and show signs of humankind’s intrusion on nature. The show opens at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17, and runs through Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022.
Abait was born in 1971 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and immigrated in 1997 to the United States. The artist draws from her own personal feelings of displacement and vulnerability to urge viewers to consider how global warming is wreaking havoc, especially on the lives of climate migrants.
For Abait, creating a piece like “The Maps that Failed Us” (2018-22) — a monumental sculptural installation of the maps of the world shown completely at random and out of context — makes visible our social, physical, and above all, planetary interdependence. The artist invites us to consider our collective geographic proximity as well as our shared universal fate to reorient our sense of shared survival.
“I find that Luciana’s depictions of our contemporary climate crisis are likewise overwhelming and invitational. Her palette is sometimes skewed neon and deliberately unnatural, which causes an unsettling effect,” explained Karen Rapp, director of the Laband Art Gallery and curator of the exhibition. “But, at the same time she renders her pictures with such intentionally beautiful surfaces and colors to remind us of what is at stake: her landscapes are figuratively pushing at the edge of planetary existence. It’s as if she’s urging us to step into the scene and do something good.”
Abait revels in the presentation of incongruities in her vivid landscapes — in color, size, and scale — to convey her ideas. One of her newest pieces speaks to the dire conditions and sense of deprivation we face under unprecedented planetary duress. “Agua,” (2021) is a site-specific digital projection of a cascading waterfall that has been shown previously for only a few hours at outdoor festivals. Now, it is installed for the first time inside the Laband Art Gallery as a 20-foot-tall voluminous artifact of nature.
“It is a conspicuous sight for sore eyes in drought-weary Los Angeles,” Rapp said. “For Luciana, the reality of dwindling waterfalls is obviously devastating but she is harnessing her optimism and hoping to reawaken humanity’s need for rebirth and renewal by conjuring virtual water as a spiritual and existential salve.”
Artists such as Abait play a crucial dimension in how they are able to lead us to a promising future. Can art solve our climate crisis? It can’t. Or rather, it can’t alone, Rapp explained. To borrow from the preeminent artistic director of the Serpentine Gallery in London, Hans Ulrich Obrist, from a recent interview, “We could never say that art can solve this very massive problem. But I think no field can solve this on its own. Art can be a wake-up call.”
About the Artist
Born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Abait is based in Los Angeles, where she is a resident artist of 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica. Her multimedia works deal with climate change and environmental fragility, and their impacts on immigration. Abait uses images of nature, such as mountains, icebergs and oceans, along with flight plans, maps and human-made structures, to act as metaphors for her personal experience in her photo-based works.
Abait studied at the National School of Fine Arts, “Prilidiano Pueyrredon” in Buenos Aires (1997), and has shown her work internationally as well as extensively in Los Angeles. Select solo exhibitions include “A Letter to The Future” at Los Angeles International Airport (2019-21); “Coffin” at Cerritos College Art Gallery, Cerritos, CA (2019); “Nest” at Lehigh University, Lehigh, Pennsylvania (2012); and “Luciana Abait” at Jean Albano Gallery in Chicago (2005). Recent group shows include “Mapping the Sublime,” Brand Library, Glendale, California (2022); “Landscape Through the Eyes of Abstraction,” California Museum of Art Thousand Oaks, Thousand Oaks (2022); and “Nomad” Torrance Art Museum, Torrance, California (2021). Her recent public art projects include Ecoartspace Billboard, Brooklyn, NY (2021); “Projecting Possibilities” Culver City Arts Foundation, Helms Bakery District (2021); and LUMINEX “Dialogues of Light” in Los Angeles, where her 34-foot-high immersive video installation “Agua” was projected onto the Petroleum Securities Building in downtown Los Angeles. More works can be viewed at lucianaabait.com.
Free Public Programming
Artist’s Reception: Saturday, Sept. 24 from 1 to 3 p.m., Laband Art Gallery
KaleidoLA Guest Artist: Luciana Abait, Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, 12:15 p.m. 1:30 p.m., Burns Fine Art Center 211
More programming in partnership with climate experts and university audiences is forthcoming.
Image credit: Luciana Abait: “Bridge,” 2017. Mixed media on paper. 47 x 65.5 in. Courtesy of the artist and Laband Art Gallery.
About Loyola Marymount University
Loyola Marymount University is an elite, top-ranked national university by U.S. News and World Report, which places LMU among the top five Jesuit universities in the country and in the top six private universities in California. Founded in 1911, LMU is a Catholic, Jesuit, and Marymount university with more than 6,500 undergraduate students and more than 3,000 graduate and law students. LMU offers 55 undergraduate majors and 59 minor programs, along with 47 master’s degree programs, three doctorate programs and 13 credential / authorization programs. LMU’s intercollegiate athletics teams compete in the West Coast Conference with 20 Division I and varsity sports.
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