Elementals

Elementals – a solo show of original artwork by Karen Hochman Brown
Four mixed-media banners accompanied by animations
Lancaster Museum of Art and History
August 4 to September 26, 2018
 
I have always been fascinated by finding and creating cohesive art out of dichotomies and juxtapositions: nature and machine, the organic and the technological, micro and macro. My art invites you to discover the potential infinite connections one might find between seemingly disparate worlds.
In the series, “Elementals”, I utilized different machines, both simple (gear driven rope twisting device) and complex (computer), as tools to reinterpret and manipulate the natural world, specifically reimagining the core building blocks of Air (AER), Earth (TERRA), Fire (IGNUS), and Water (AQUA).
 
Mixed-media banners:  satin charmeuse, silk dupioni, wool, wood, aluminum, sheet acrylic, and acrylic paint.

With each piece, I begin by importing a photograph into a modular graphics-synthesizer program where I implement a variety of algorithms. I use polar space, fractal space, assorted modulations, reflections, waves, distortions and symmetries to achieve each layer of my digital constructs. Using this technology, I draw out the essence of my subject, placing focus on details and developing an emotion through repetition and distortion. AER should feel like breath; TERRA is solid yet fertile; IGNUS is unstable and volatile; AQUA is powerful and ever-changing.

Presenting this work as fabric banners has given me a chance to return to the act of physically creating something. As a digital artist, I work at the computer. Most of what I produce never leaves the computer.  When it’s time to print, the substrate then comes into play. For the last several years, I have been printing my kaleidoscopic work on metal. The result is vibrant and shiny. It is also very hard. So I am experimenting with some new toys (laser cutter) and some old toys (sewing machine) and creating something softer to buffer the noise that clutters our lives. 

Accompanying the banners are two mood animations devised from the base photography used to create the flags. These animations are art pieces and have no plot or linear elements.
 

Each banner contains two QR codes that link to extra content related to the artwork. Follow the links below to view the QR content.
One code leads to the photograph used to create the piece. I have paired the image with a poem related to the element. 
 
The other code leads to an animation that illustrates the layers used for the graphic image. For best viewing, watch full screen. Click on the image to start the video.

Are You Feeling The Energy?

The Great Big Aloe Eye in the Sky is one of my more energetic pieces. The bright orange of the aloe bloom vibrates against the brisk blue sky. 

The Great Big Aloe Eye In The Sky Animation from Karen Hochman Brown on Vimeo.

I took the photograph used to create this work at the Los Angeles County Arboretum. It had rained only hours before I arrived. I usually focus in on the flower for my pieces, but the combination of the orange spikes and clear blue sky were irresistible.

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Base Image for “The Great Big Aloe Eye in the Sky”

The Great Big Aloe Eye in the Sky is featured as the cover of my 2017 calendar. I only have a limited number and they will sell out quickly. 

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Click here to purchase the 2017 Wall Calendar

Keep Loving

Loving Day commemorates the 1967 Supreme Court decision of Loving v. Virginia, the case that legalized interracial marriage. Both the case and the holiday take their name from Richard and Mildred Loving, a couple that grew up and fell in love in Virginia. Although Loving v. Virginia was decided in 1967, the most reluctant southern states took until the year 2000 to repeal their miscegenation laws. This became pertinent in my life when our family became inter-racial when my son and his wife were married on Loving Day. The basis for this artwork is my beautiful daughter-in-law’s wedding bouquet.

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Adorn Your World With My 2017 Calendar

This is the sixth year of my self-published calendar/portfolio. Before I started specializing in my current form of art, I was a graphic designer. I guess I still am. The calendar gives me a chance to revisit my prior occupation. Putting the calendar together also gives me an opportunity to look back on the art I have created this year and relive what was going on with my life for each piece. The creations are very personal for me. Each photograph is a reminder of my travels or my mother’s garden or whatever was going on the day I took the picture. Each finished work is a memento that relays clues for what was going on in my life.

 

I included the four kaleidoscope pictures I created early in the year as Artist-In-Residence at the Los Angeles Arboretum. I wandered the grounds early in the morning to take photographs I would work with throughout the day, ending in the afternoon, and these pieces were done. This was an exciting challenge, creating a piece of art in a single day, in front of an audience. You can find these artworks in the calendar in February, April, November and December.

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Pieces I created for the Sanchez Art Center’s 50|50 Show in Pacifica, CA

 

The other big project I had this year is represented in the months of January, June and July. These artworks were part of an installation at Sanchez Art Center in Pacifica, California. In this project, I created 50 small artworks in 50 days over the summer. I decided to use this as an opportunity to incorporate a technique I have been toying with for years, even before the kaleidoscopes. The basic form continues with the use of a single photograph that I have distorted and reflected. But for these small works, I made the backgrounds with a technique I developed that brushstrokes to paint the image based on texture, shape and luminescence of a photograph.

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Feminine Rose Mystique

My husband has sub-titled this piece “Eggs and Orifices.” I think that is fitting for this powerfully feminine piece.

A bed of roses has been carefully arranged for a dance of fertility.

Base image (center) and two "foundlings" for "Victoria Rose."
Base image (center) and two “foundlings” for “Victoria Rose.”

Open petals of the pink rose are transformed into fleshy openings. Each corner holds an egg perched on the edge of a cliff, awaiting a synchronized dive into the welcoming folds. Corseted hourglass figures suspend a circular fixture above the bed, almost obscuring it from view. There is a hint of something lurid, maybe a bit nasty.

victoria-rose_merch

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The Repose of Autumn

My husband and I are members of a Community Theater company and we have been rehearsing feverishly to put on our first drama, Twelve Angry Jurors. We opened this weekend and close the next. I play the role of the Foreman. It is my job to keep the jury room in order, to take and tally votes and, so it would seem, tell a lot of people to calm down and sit down, including my husband. The opening went well. Whew! When we got home from the performances we sat down to watch the Second Presidential Debate. I am hit with how relevant the highly charged characters in this 1950s play reflect what I see on my TV today.

LateAutumnLeaves_animation from Karen Hochman Brown on Vimeo.

More than being a courtroom drama, this play shows us the dynamics of a small group of individuals and how they come to be of a like mind. In this drama, and hopefully in real life, those who speak their mind in the name of truth do influence the way others act. Poisonous diatribe is stopped while sane and rational discourse has a chance to triumph.

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Base image (center) and two “foundling” images for “Late Autumn Leaves.”

I chose Late Autumn Leaves to share this week because I just need to calm down after opening night jitters and the social politics of 2016. This work reminds me the days are getting longer and time is slowing down as we head into Fall. Green leaves are turning color. The sky is bright blue and can be seen peeking through arched cathedral windows near the center of the piece.

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Finding Focus in the Calm Places

It was January of 2011 and I was struggling with where I wanted to take my art and my art career. I had been making Judaic artwork using some powerful graphic synthesizer programs. The goal was to print images to silk to make prayer shawls. The technology was new and expensive, and over the course of a year and a half, I found the whole process too frustrating to continue.

 

So now I find myself lost and unfocused. I am at the end of that journey. I’m out of a job, a job that I invented. I feel betrayed by the very thing that feeds my soul and gives me great comfort. For many months, I tinkered with various software programs looking for something new to do. I revisited prior projects to see if new insight would advance them to the front.

 

Base image (center) and two "foundlings" for "Erythrina On Fire."
Base image (center) and two “foundlings” for “Erythrina On Fire.”

One day, I made the inspirational leap to use photographs with the math-based software that landed me in a place where I was able to regain my focus. So much so, that I have been concentrating on this series for almost six years, creating more than one hundred, forty pieces.

In the artwork Erythrina On Fire, I have constructed a large swath of smooth cream color against the very busy orange structure of the reflected flower. You can see in the animation of the piece how I altered the colors to give the viewer a place to rest comfortably in a calm place amid the surrounding chaos.

 

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Cochlear Calla Lily Spin

It has long been a goal of mine to make my artworks move. I get a chance to go deeper into the trance-inducing nature of my kaleidoscopes. I also have the opportunity to show the audience how my work is constructed.

Cochlear Calla Lily is constructed in very few parts. I was taken by the simplicity in form of the subject blossom and wanted to reflect that feeling in the work. There is a simple background layer and a central hub. There is a large wreath-like motif and four corner doodads.

Base image (center) and two “foundlings” for Cochlear Calla Lily

The most complex part of the piece is that main motif—a twelve-layered repetition of a single image. When I give my artwork movement, I can show how these distorted and reflected calla blossom dances into place around the wheel.

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Erotic Lure of the Passion Flower

What is it about this passion flower that intrigues me so? Is it the fleshy petals and sepals that burst open with a violent pink. Maybe it’s the sturdy strands of the purple tiger-striped corona. This beautiful geometry is designed to attract and direct pollinators to the nectaries in the middle. The dressing of the bloom is erotic and frilly, showing off its need for reproduction.

 

I’m not as taken with the actual sex parts of the flower. It seems to me that the alien structure of the carpels and stamens needs to be dressed up in a fancy-pants target to attract the creatures required to help it reproduce.

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Base image and two “foundlings” for “Passion On Grass.”

 

When I take pictures of passion flowers, I try to figure out how to capture a great image around this interior structure that I find so distracting. I found a solution in this case by capturing this freshly opened blossom in profile on my lawn.

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