A Q&A With The Four Ladies of City Limits' Trapper Keeper
The group of women delivers a show so cohesive it kind of blows you away.
Mia Christopher, Jane Kim, Mie Horlyck Morgensen, and Lana Williams don't know each other -- some of them only meeting while installing their group show, Trapper Keeper, at the Oakland gallery, City Limits -- but their work is though they've been working alongside each other in its creation.
Alyssa Block, who curated the show along with Evan Reiser, says, "Each artist in the show is doing something similar, which is experimenting with materials and application, and addressing ideas about personal identity." It's interesting, shes says, because, "you can feel their excitement through the work."
The four artists spoke briefly with SF Weekly about their upcoming show.
You each have such a distinct voice, can you tell me a little about your background and training?
Mia Christopher: I studied painting at California College of the Arts, where I received my BFA in May 2012. Prior to that I briefly studied photography at School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Jane Kim: I started drawing around the age of three. I remember stacking pages of computer paper and stapling them together to make little booklets with my own original stories and illustrations, some based on personal real-life events and some completely made up. I never cared for rough drafts or pre-planning. I'd just go for it with a ballpoint pen and markers. That impulsive type of art-making is still how I create to this day.
I majored in Painting & Drawing at California College of the Arts (class of 2011) and the faculty in that department is really amazing and encouraging. I feel grateful to have been able to learn and experience what I did while I was there.
Mie Horlyck Morgensen: My background is in architecture and performance design - design of social/ interactive spaces in public space. I'm from Denmark, Copenhagen and before coming to San Francisco I worked full time with public art.
I was running several projects where I transformed decayed pedestrian tunnels into public art installations and art galleries in collaboration with the local municipalities. In spring 2013 I received an MFA from New Genres Department at San Francisco Art institute.
Lana Williams: I live and work in Oakland. Currently my studio is at Real Time and Space. I graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute with my MFA in painting, in May, 2013. Since graduation I have been in a group show at Interface Gallery and a collaborative show at n/a gallery, both in Oakland.
Your work comes together in such a cohesive way -- yet you're each so unique. How would you each describe your own "style"?
Christopher: I really don't think that I have a style, I just try and let myself make the work that I feel I want to or need to make at the present moment. Sometimes that results in many works that are similar for a while, and other times one project is made and the next thing I work on looks or feels entirely different. Right now I am especially interested in the very basic idea of "looking" - and how different perceptions shape every minute detail of the world.
Kim: I would say that my "style" is inspired by everyday things that hold a specific type of cheap and boldly colored aesthetic, like the contents of an elementary schooler's lunchbox. Maybe it's a PB&J on wonder bread wrapped in Saran Wrap and a Ziplock bag of baby carrots and Ritz crackers with grape jelly stacked in a square-shaped plastic tupperware that has a translucent neon green lid. Slightly awkward, plastic-y, weird, layered, bright, textural, and simple.
Morgensen: I'm attracted to the material I'm working with and I get inspired by how I can make my imprint on the material, whether it be stretching, bending, folding, painting or even performing with it! My work practice is pretty much like a relationship with a material. It's a bit like falling in love until you are fed up with it - and end the relationship. At the moment my materials that I'm in love with are vinyl, fake leather, ceramic, and liquid latex.
I often create stories around my work that somehow relate to the current mental states I'm in. For example; when I'm lonely I make friends in sculpture. Then I imagine how they would be annoying, funny, or even good to go out with to a bar, all while they are being created by my hands!
I like to see my work as an invitation to a game where everything can happen by my saying so.
Williams: I make abstract paintings that often include installations and sculptures.
How did you meet each other? And then how did the idea to have a group show come to be?
Christopher: Jane Kim and I went to school together at California College of the Arts. We also had a show together in April 2013, at Something Spacious gallery in downtown Oakland. The show was a series of collaborative installations, including an edible cake sculpture. I did not meet the other artists until the installation. Alyssa Block visited my studio for her blog Workspace, and that is when she brought up the group show idea to me. I admire the work of all of the artists involved and was thrilled to be a part of it.
Kim: Mia Christopher and I first met in a class we had together while we were both attending CCA and have remained friends since then. We also collaborated on a two-person show at Some Thing Spacious (Oakland, CA) this past April. I met lovely Mie very briefly at the install of Trapper Keeper and I am looking forward to meeting Lana for the first time at the opening this Friday.
I actually had coincidentally come across and bookmarked Lana's website while worm-holing through internet a while ago, before I had any knowledge of this show's happening. I don't remember how I came across her site in the first place but I'm excited to be showing with her and the other lovely ladies this time around. Alyssa Block, one of the curators of City Limits, also runs a website/project called Workspace-SF that features and highlights San Francisco Bay Area artists, designers, and curators in their creative workspaces. She originally reached out to me to do a feature on me and my studio, and mentioned that she might be interested in having me show at City Limits. The idea eventually progressed into this group show!
Morgensen: I know Lana Williams from SFAI. Alyssa Block and Evan Reiser who run the gallery put the show together and thought we would be a good match. I agree.
Williams: Mie and I had a class together at SFAI. I wouldn't call the show a collaboration, but a group show.
What can we expect to see from you in this show?
Christopher: I am showing large scale, digital prints from sketchbooks that I keep religiously. This is the first time I have ever printed my sketchbooks and the results are very pleasing. I also have a sculpture that is the makeup I remove every night collected on cotton pads, strung together with a few small, plastic beads. It's about 6 feet tall and approximately 800 make up pads. Additionally, I have a sculpture created with "studio dirt" (whenever I sweep my studio I collect the dirt in jars for future use and because it is beautiful) and elmer's glue that is reminiscent of a page in a notebook, in terms of shape and scale.
Kim: Small things made with great love. Some fluorescent colors; paintings with mixed mediums such as wire, clay, and foam; a pile of paint squirts, some stripes and some polka dots.
Morgensen: I have four pieces that are made out of vinyl and then stuffed with various material. I guess I'm attracted to the stretchy suppressed feeling I get by squeezing the stuff underneath the vinyl. Something wants to get out or something wants to be safe and kept in place or something might be hidden. Along with the four stuffed pieces I have two other vinyl pieces that are found objects wrapped in vinyl and a set of vinyl pieces glued directly to the wall like a collage. It's a bit like a commune with a main house and smaller houses around it. I grew up in a commune in Denmark, so I guess I see a bit of childhood in this piece as well.
Williams: I have made new work for the show that consists of three shaped canvases hung on top of a painted mural. The mural references the inside design of a security envelope. The security envelope interests me as a vessel that contains and transports private and personal information, much like a trapper keeper would for a young person. I used tempera paint for the mural because I was interested in a cheap paint that most children use, and the charcoal like quality that I could get from the it. I made multi-shaped canvases to break from the normative frame.
Mia Christopher, Jane Kim, Mie Horlyck Morgensen, and Lana Williams present Trapper Keeper on Jan. 24 at 7 p.m. through Feb. 15 at City Limits (300 Jefferson, Oakland). Visit citylimitsgallery.com for more information.