Apr 1, 2023 – Aug 1, 2023
An exhibition exploring our relationships with nature in an urban environment
Top Prize Winners
1st Place: Karen Baker
2nd Place: Jonas Yip
3rd Place: Lacey Terrell
Opening reception scheduled for Saturday, April 1, 4-7 pm PST, 2023 at 720 Kohler St, Los Angeles, CA 90021. Tickets HERE.
Inner-City Arts, 720 Kohler St, Los Angeles, CA 90021
Near the highways and the unstoppable soundtrack of roaring engines, Los Angeles sustains a universe of natural life, a testament both to its ancient roots and its contemporaneous bustling existence and constant movement forward, connecting the original occupiers of the land and its current dwellers and custodians. Life Cycles emerges from the meeting points of wild nature and urban life, parking lots and the dwindling river, bridges and hidden wildlife preserves, from ecological concerns and harsh environmental realities. Participating photographers trace animals in the air on the ground, botanical life, the shifts brought on by climate changes and the complicated relationships of our communities with our surroundings.
Andrea Gyorody is director of the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art at Pepperdine University. A curator, art historian, editor, and critic, Gyorody has previously held positions at the Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles. From 2017 to 2020, she served as the Ellen Johnson ’33 Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College, where her exhibition Afterlives of the Black Atlantic (2019–20), co-curated with Matthew Francis Rarey, received an Award for Curatorial Excellence from the Association of Art Museum Curators. Other recent projects include I Like LA and LA Likes Me: Joseph Beuys at 100 (2021) and the internationally traveling exhibition Forms Larger and Bolder: Eva Hesse Drawings (2019–22), co-curated with Barry Rosen. Gyorody’s writing has appeared in Artforum, ARTnews, Hyperallergic, and Gastronomica, among others. She was the founding editor of Active Cultures’ online magazine, Digest, and writes the newsletter Weekly Special, dedicated to exploring the intersection of art and food.
Many of the photographs submitted for this exhibition offered beautiful views of the natural world. As I sifted through them, trying to narrow hundreds down to just thirty, I found myself most drawn to those photographs that told stories about “the meeting points of wild nature and urban life” (as the call put it) on a human, relatable scale. The winning photograph shows two heart-shaped chairs and a small table, set in a neglected yard in the shadow of an overpass. Are the chairs waiting for sitters, for someone who cultivated this corner of quietude? Or does the desolation of the scene suggest pastness, obsolescence, or, at the extreme, a post-apocalyptic future? The ambiguity speaks incisively and poetically to the anxiety of our present moment, suspended between anticipation and foreclosure.
Yet other photographs in this group tell of nature simulated, contained, and exhibited; of bird-friends roosting outside our windows during our collective confinement; of rich, flourishing trees that once ringed Malibu Lake, since snuffed out by fire. The melancholy of these images resonates.
Of the thirty photographs presented here, only two prominently include the human figure. Unsurprisingly, both feature children, one made small in the presence of one of the most spectacular landscapes in America, the other rendered imposing as he gazes intently at tiny frogs swimming in a jar. These childhood moments of wonder are the antidote to the specter of destruction that lies at the end of our master narrative of “progress.” In the cycles of life and history in which we find ourselves today, wonder remains not only possible, but essential. When photographers trap these moments like frogs in a jar, prodding us to look with curiosity and awe at what is all around us, they fulfill one of photography’s greatest ambitions.
Live Cycles (open call), selected artists
Karen Baker (1st Place Winner), Robin Bell, Bonnie Blake, Carla Blumenkrantz, Julie Blydenburgh, Barbara Boissevain, Joanne Chase-Mattillo, Joseph Doherty, Dean Forbes, Helen Glazer, Mark Harding, Mark Indig, Calli McCaw, Christina McFaul, Yulia Morris, Michael Notrica, Gordon Ownby, Rollence Patugan, Daryl-Ann Saunders, Eric Smith, Lacey Terrell (3rd Place Winner), Jonas Yip (2nd Place Winner) and Carl Young
LA River Photo Adventure (workshop), participating students
Richard Asensio, Peter Bennett, Bonnie Blake, L. Aviva Diamond, Kristen Hegel, Leslie Jacobs, Dan Vint, Cheryl Wolfe, Carl Young and Mara Zaslove
Nature and our Environment (class at Inner-City Arts), participating students
Leah Flores, Miguel Martinez and Evangeline Rubisa