Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA is a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles led by the Getty Foundation. Located across multiple thematically-linked exhibitions in museums and galleries across Southern California, the project has been heralded as the largest initiative to focus on Latin American and Latino Art. Studio Art Associate Professor Nicole Awai is featured in both Relational Undercurrents: Contemporary Art of the Caribbean Archipelago at the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) and Circles and Circuits I: History and Art of the Chinese Caribbean Diaspora at the California African American Museum.
By focusing on the art of the Caribbean islands, MOLAA’s exhibition expands the geography
of Latin America beyond its conventional borders to include artists from Haiti and the Anglophone, Francophone, and Dutch-speaking Caribbean. Awai’s work is featured among paintings, installation art, sculpture, photography, video and performance. Tatiana Flores and Michelle A. Stephens served as curators and defined the exhibition as an exploration of unifying elements and shared experiences of life in the Caribbean islands and their diasporas in four thematic sections: Conceptual Mappings, Perpetual Horizons, Landscape Ecologies, and Representational Acts. In the catalogue, Flores and Stephens write:
[Dream On—Happy Ending . . .] (2011) is a hybrid painting and sculpture made of black polyurethane resin that resembles nothing as much as a congealed oil spill. On top of this ‘black ooze’—a phrase often used by the artist to refer to the black, liquid-like elements in her work—are pieces of construction materials, such as foam resembling concrete bricks, netting, and a fence post, along with bits of fake grass and spilled nail polish in various colors. While this work and other pieces by the artist certainly force us to reflect on the effects of development on the environment, Dream On—Happy Ending . . . also functions more abstractly. In Awai’s words, “I have come to understand that this black oozing materiality is in actuality a site of confluence—of our histories, our physical existence, and the elasticity of time, space, and place.
Additionally, the California African American Museum (CAAM) has shown Awai’s work in their contribution to PST: LA/LA, which, too, reveals the hidden complexities of the transcultural nature of the Caribbean. Awai was invited to the museum for a gallery talk with another artist in the exhibition, Andrea Chung, which CAAM consequently documented on video. In the video, Awai describes how the site-specific drawing for CAAM was a natural extension of an ongoing series of hers, Vistas, and the malleability of materials and time.
Relational Undercurrents will be on view until January 28, 2018 and Circles and Circuits will be on view until February 25, 2018.