The Eli and Edythe Broad Stage, Santa Monica, and Sotheby’s Institute of Art, Los Angeles, a partnership with Claremont Graduate University, will present internationally acclaimed, Los Angeles-based artists Njideka Akunyili Crosby and Charles Gaines in conversation with Anne Ellegood, Senior Curator, Hammer Museum on Monday, May 21 at The Broad Stage at the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center. ARTISTS TALK: A Conversation with L.A. Artists is the second program in a series of talks with influential California-based artists, established to explore the living legacy of Los Angeles’ vibrant contemporary art scene. Executive producer of the Artists Talk series is William Turner.
The artists will speak to their work, process, histories, and lives, addressing the significance and specificity of L.A. as a creative context for their work. Moderated by Ellegood, an avid supporter and exponent of both artists, the event joins these tangentially related though distinct voices for the first time in a public forum.
“I am truly excited for this opportunity to bring these two important artists together in conversation,” said Anne Ellegood, Senior Curator, Hammer Museum. “While each has chosen to make Los Angeles their home and contribute greatly to the cultural life of our city, they are internationally recognized artists who meaningfully explore the relationship of the local to the global. While distinct in many ways—from different generations and nationalities, one working predominantly figuratively with a colorful and richly layered visual language and the other with a longstanding commitment to employing rules-based systems to generate imagery, one having lived in Los Angeles since the late 1980s and the other a relatively recent transplant—both their practices explore fundamental questions about representation, how histories are embedded in imagery, and the role of the artist in society. I am a great admirer of both artists and honored to share the stage with them.”
Njideka Akunyili Crosby (b. 1983) is a Nigerian-born, Los Angeles-based artist. Her large-scale works on paper combine traditional painting techniques with drawing, collage, and printmaking to convey a feeling of aesthetic hybridity. Informed by her own experiences as a transnational expat, the figure dominates throughout Crosby’s expressive work as an imposing vehicle for identity and narrative, as an entity both divided and borrowed, personal and universal, annexed and consolidated. A multiplicity of experience is conveyed in each richly layered and dynamic work, as the artist references the intimacy of domestic and private spaces shaped in perpetuity by the lingering impositions of history and cultural appropriation. Crosby is a 2017 recipient of the MacArthur Foundation ‘Genius’ Fellowship.
Charles Gaines (b. 1944) is an established Los Angeles-based artist and an influential educator on faculty at California Institute of the Arts. His conceptually inflected works explore the making of meaning and its socio-political implications through the methodical revelation of systems. Varying from the representational to the more deliberately abstract, Gaines explores quantifiable increments, everything from language, musical notation, to numeric data, deconstructing the systemic armatures that support and propagate signification. Interested in the intersection of the objective and interpretative, his photographs, drawings, performances, and works on paper are as poetic as they are critically analytical. Gaines is the 2018 recipient of the REDCAT award, an honor bestowed to leaders in the field of contemporary art.
Both Gaines and Crosby, though working through distinct practices, address themes of cultural meaning and hybridity, critically challenging how significance is attributed and defined or, for that matter, disavowed.
The Artists Talk series was forged in the spirit of L.A’s unique interdisciplinary fluidity, a shifting dynamic the city has fostered across cultural and institutional boundaries that continues to set it apart as a vital and relevant center for art production. Part of a new, multi-year collaborative arts initiative between The Broad Stage and Sotheby’s Institute of Art, this series brings the living history of Southern California’s art to the stage while providing educational and career opportunities for arts management students and the public alike.